How Long Can Chlamydia Be Dormant?- Symptoms, Treatment, and More

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Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection induced by bacteria known as Chlamydia Trachomatis. Chlamydia spreads by transferring bodily fluids from an infected person to another through sexual activities and is one of the prevalent STIs in the United States of America. This is mainly because it has no visible symptoms most time. Thus, people can have Chlamydia and be unaware, infecting others unknowingly through sex. Can Chlamydia be dormant? Chlamydia can remain inactive in the body, causing a low-grade infection without symptoms.

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The Center for Disease Control estimates that 50% of men and 75% of women have Chlamydia. In addition, 40% to 96% of people with Chlamydia show no symptoms of this disease. When discovered, however, Chlamydia can be treated. However, untreated Chlamydia can cause irreparable health complications like damaging a woman’s reproductive system, causing ectopic pregnancy, and causing infertility in men. This is why healthcare providers recommend regular screening for sexually active people at higher risk of getting infected.

Can Chlamydia be dormant?

Yes, Chlamydia can be dormant in the body for several years without any flare-up to trigger a symptomatic infection. This means a person could live with Chlamydia for many years without knowing because the typical symptoms don’t appear. However, Chlamydia can cause a flare-up after laying dormant for several years if the strength of a person’s immune system has been diminished by severe conditions like HIV, cold or flu, and cancer, among others.

Although, in some cases, symptoms of the infection appear within a few weeks of contact, there have been instances where Chlamydia remained dormant for over 20 years. This is why it is vital to get screened regularly if you have suspicions after recent sexual contact.

How common is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is statistically one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. Its ability to stay dormant for years without apparent symptoms contributes to its prevalence.

In 2019, the CDC recorded about 2 million cases of Chlamydia infections. Howbeit, the number is expected to have risen considerably since then. This is because there was a surge in reported infections in 2019 compared to the previous years. The CDC reports that Chlamydia infection rates increased among people of all races and ethnicities, genders, and in every region of the U.S. alone. Because most cases of Chlamydia are asymptomatic, it is expected that several other issues are likely unreported and are not included in the estimates.

Chlamydia is more common among young people who are sexually active. More particularly, teenagers or young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 are more likely to be infected. More than 50% of reported infection cases in the U.S. are believed to be within this age group.

How do you get infected with Chlamydia?

The primary way to get infected with Chlamydia is through vaginal sex, anal sex, and oral sex. The infection is spread through the transmission of bodily fluids from an infected person to another person. For instance, if your hands contact infected fluids, you can get Chlamydia if you touch your eyes with the same hand. In addition, a newborn baby can also get Chlamydia during delivery if its mother is already infected.

The most common way Chlamydia spreads is when vaginal fluid or semen already infected with Chlamydia trachomatis travels from one person to another. It doesn’t matter if penetration or ejaculation was involved in the sexual activity. As long as there is sexual contact and the transfer of fluids, you can be infected with Chlamydia. You can be infected in the following ways;

Vaginal sex

If your partner is infected, they can pass Chlamydia to you from their penis or vagina during intercourse.

Anal sex

The bacteria that cause Chlamydia can move from your partner’s penis to your anus or vice versa.

Oral sex

You can also get this infection from engaging in oral sex. This is because bacteria can pass from your partner’s mouth to your genitals, anus, or vice versa.

Sex toys

Chlamydia can pass from sex toys to your mouth, genitals, or anus if it has come in contact with infected fluid.

You can also get Chlamydia if you touch your eyes after your hands make contact with infected fluids. So make sure you wash your hand thoroughly right after contact.

 You can infect your partner through unprotected sexual contact

Who can get Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is usually asymptomatic, so it is vital to get tested once you suspect you may have made contact with fluids from an infected partner, even if you don’t feel any symptoms.

There’s an increased chance of getting infected with Chlamydia if you;

  • Have multiple sexual partners
  • Are pregnant
  • Less than 25 years old
  • Have a new sexual partner who is infected
  • You’ve had Chlamydia in the past

Symptoms of Chlamydia

As noted earlier, Chlamydia usually doesn’t have symptoms when you are exposed to it. Still, it can trigger severe health complications if left untreated. Howbeit, in some cases, some symptoms might surface. If these symptoms appear, it is usually several weeks after sexual contact with an infected person. When the symptoms do occur, they differ based on the gender of the infected person. However, there are a few symptoms that apply to all genders.

Both genders may experience the following symptoms;

Eyes

These symptoms include discharge, pain, and redness of the eyes when the bacteria that causes Chlamydia gets into your eyes. In addition, you may experience symptoms of conjunctivitis.

Anus

Pain, discomfort, and bleeding are also associated with this infection. You might also experience mucus-like discharge from your anus.

Throat

You may experience a sore throat if the bacteria is in your throat. Still, you probably won’t notice that it’s there.

Symptoms in men

  • Mucus-like or watery discharge from the penis
  • Burning sensation or pain during urination
  • Pain around the testicles

Symptoms in women

  • Yellow, white, or gray vagina discharge. This discharge can sometimes be smelly.
  • Your urine has pus
  • Discomfort or a burning sensation during urination
  • Pain during sex
  • Unusual itching in and around your vagina
  • An unusually increased urge to urinate frequently
  • Pelvic pain or pain in the lower part of your abdomen
  • Bleeding in between your menstrual cycle
  • Painful and uncomfortable menstruation

 Painful menstruation or bleeding between menstrual cycles can be symptoms of Chlamydial infection

How long does it take for Chlamydia to show?

Chlamydia can be present and dormant in the body for several years. However, it takes 1-3 weeks to show up in the vulva. There are different ways to test for Chlamydia. The waiting period for the results depends on the mode of the Chlamydia test.

Urine test

Your doctor would require you to pee in a cup that will be tested in a laboratory to see if Chlamydia bacteria are in your urine. This test takes about 2-5 days to show a positive if you are infected with the disease.

Blood test

Your doctor will take out some of your blood to be sent into the lab for testing to see if antibodies to Chlamydia are in your bloodstream. Blood test results can come back in a few minutes when the blood is analyzed.

Swab test

Your doctor will use a stick or cotton round to acquire a small sample of suspected fluid that has the infection. This sample is then cultured to see what bacteria grow from it. It can take up to 2-3 days to show results.

 Doctors can use a stick or cotton round for a swab

How long can Chlamydia lay dormant?

Chlamydia can stay dormant in a person’s body for years without apparent symptoms. In some cases, symptoms appear within 2-14 days after infection. However, some people, especially men, may have Chlamydia for years without knowing it.

Most men usually don’t show symptoms of Chlamydia when they’re infected but are still capable of transmitting it to others. If an infected person conducts a test, however, even if Chlamydia is dormant, they will test positive for the infection. Chlamydia can still be detected even in a dormant stage.

Treatment options for Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a curable and treatable infection. So, if you suspect you have the disease, there is no need to panic. Instead, consult your healthcare provider immediately to get recommended treatment options.

Chlamydia is typically treated with antibiotics. The most commonly recommended antibiotics for Chlamydia are doxycycline and azithromycin.

To use doxycycline, take the drug once a day for seven days

To use azithromycin, take one dose of 1g followed by 500mg once a day for two days

Ensure you consult your doctor about Chlamydia before taking any treatment options to avoid severe side effects or adverse drug interactions.

When should I consult my doctor?

It’s advised that you contact your healthcare provider as soon as you suspect you have come in contact with infected bodily fluids. This is important as your doctor would offer timely recommendations that would benefit your sexual health.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you follow the prescribed Chlamydia treatment, your symptoms should clear in about a week or two. However, even if your symptoms disappear, you must finish your doctor’s prescribed dosage. In addition, stay away from sex during the treatment to reduce the risk of reinfection.

 You should complete your recommended dosage even if your symptoms improve

Your doctor can test you for Chlamydia by taking your blood sample, urine sample, or swabbing your vagina, anus, throat, or cervix. If you are infected with the bacteria, it typically presents within 7-21 days of exposure. Chlamydia will appear on a sexually transmitted diseases test within 1-2 weeks of exposure.

The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

You shouldn’t wait to see the doctor for simple health needs.