What Are the Risks of Untreated Chlamydia?

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Chlamydia is one of the most prevalently reported sexually transmitted diseases for men and women. Chlamydia is carried by the bacteria Chlamydia Trachomatis and is typically asymptomatic. This means that the infection doesn’t always show symptoms when present. Unfortunately, this means many people can have chlamydia without knowing or treating it. Untreated chlamydia can cause some unpleasant complications for infected people, especially women.

This article discusses untreated chlamydia and its attendant implications for the patient. Read on to know more.

How do people get chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a widely reported sexually transmitted disease caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. View the fact sheet here.

People get chlamydia by having unprotected sexual relations with an infected partner. This includes anal, vaginal, or oral sex.

The infection spreads through contact with genital fluids from an infected person during sexual activities.

The bacteria that causes chlamydia is carried in semen, vaginal and penile fluids and can affect the urethra, eyes, anus, cervix, and throat.

Chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics. However, leaving the infection untreated can lead to severe complications and significant reproductive and sexual health challenges in the future.

Complications from untreated chlamydia may be especially dire for women’s reproductive health.

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What are the risks of untreated chlamydia?

Many people can have chlamydia without knowing because the infection doesn’t usually present symptoms.

Sometimes, the signs that show are so mild that patients mistake them for other conditions.

This is why regular testing is essential for sexually active people so infected people can get ahead of the infection with appropriate medical assistance.

Leaving chlamydia untreated can lead to other complications like infertility, pelvic inflammatory diseases, ectopic pregnancy, chronic pain, etc.

The attendant complications can vary depending on the gender of the patient. However, men and women can experience reactive arthritis, adversely impacting the eyes, urinary tract, and joints.

In addition, chlamydia can cause urethritis- the inflammation of the urethra, a condition with similar symptoms to a urinary tract infection.

A chlamydia infection left untreated can also increase the risk of contracting HIV due to a weakened immune system.

Complications for Women

While chlamydia is not life-threatening, leaving the infection untreated can lead to severe complications with potentially fatal outcomes.

In addition, damage caused by uncured chlamydia can lead to irreparable damage to a woman’s reproductive system leading to infertility and other unwanted conditions.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

PID occurs when there’s severe inflammation of a woman’s reproductive organs, which can be one of the complications of leaving chlamydia untreated.

In addition, PID can cause further complications in a woman’s body, including ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and abdominal pain.

PID can cause the scarring of the fallopian tubes leading to tubal blockages responsible for infertility, chronic abdominal pain, and infertility.

Some of the common symptoms associated with PID include:

  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Irregular bleeding between periods

If you notice these symptoms, immediately contact your healthcare expert so they can schedule a test for you.


Pregnant women who have chlamydia stand the risk of passing the infection to their newborns at birth. Unfortunately, untreated chlamydia can pass from a mother to her child during childbirth.

Suppose a newborn contracts chlamydia from birth; the baby could develop pneumonia or conjunctivitis.

Additionally, the newborn may become a pre-term delivery. This is why the CDC recommends that doctors test pregnant women for chlamydia when they come for their first prenatal consultations.

Suppose a pregnant woman has chlamydia; her doctor would prescribe a round of safe and recommended antibiotics to treat the infection without harming the fetus.

If chlamydia is treated early, it is less likely to cause problems for the mother during the birth of her newborn.

Untreated Chlamydia complications for men

The CDC has confirmed that chlamydia complications may not be as damning for men as for women. However, some severe complications can occur from leaving chlamydia untreated for men.

Epididymitis is the inflammation of one or both testicles, an infection that can be caused by leaving chlamydia untreated.

The epididymis is a tube in the back of the testicles where sperm cells grow and mature.

An inflammation of this tube can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like testicular pain, painful ejaculation, and painful urination.

In addition, if not treated immediately, this infection can develop into sepsis or an abscess, which can cause infertility in males.

5 health risks of untreated chlamydia

Causes and risk factors

Chlamydia spreads through sexual contact with a partner who is already infected.

The infection can spread through anal, oral, vaginal, or toy sex with contact with an infected genital fluid.

This means that people who have sex without condoms are more prone to getting infected if they engage in sexual activities with an already infected partner.

The CDC recommends regular testing for chlamydia because of its asymptomatic nature. In addition, people who fall into the following categories should ensure to get tested for chlamydia at least annually.

  • Sexually involved people under 25 years
  • Sexually active people 25 years and over
  • People with multiple sexual partners
  • People with sexual partners with an STI

In addition, people should avoid the following situations to reduce the risk of getting chlamydia:

  • Having sex with more than one partner
  • Having sex with someone who has other sexual partners
  • Having an STI
  • Not using protection or condoms regularly

Symptoms of Chlamydia

Typically, chlamydia doesn’t cause symptoms to appear even when present and can cause severe health complications. However, in cases where symptoms occur, they may not present until a few weeks after contact with an infected partner.

Chlamydia can cause severe complications for women even if symptoms don’t appear.

Women may notice the following:

  • Unusual foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Bleeding between periods

For men, symptoms can include:

  • Unusual discharge from the penis
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Testicular pain

Read Also: Everything You Should Know About Chlamydia in Pregnancy

Frequently Asked Questions About Untreated Chlamydia

Chlamydia infection can be uncomfortable and irritable to experience, especially when its associated symptoms are present. Fortunately, this infection can be easily treated.

If you suspect you have a chlamydial infection, contact your medical service provider immediately.

Chlamydia is usually treated with antibiotics. On diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe an entire course of antibiotics to get your chlamydia treated.

You must complete the course as prescribed, even if your symptoms ease after a few days of using the medication.

Chlamydia is a tricky infection because it can stay dormant without symptoms for many years, causing irreversible damage.

This is why medical service providers recommend regular testing, especially for people that are active sexually and people with multiple sexual partners.

For some people, symptoms can appear between 1 to 3 weeks of contact with infected genital fluids.

Additionally, some people don’t see signs for several months or years despite having chlamydia.

You can have chlamydia without having sex. Chlamydia is spread through contact with infected genital fluids.

You can get chlamydia if you have unprotected sexual contact with an infected person, including sharing sex toys or other sexual activities that require genital contact.

You can still get chlamydia even without penetration, orgasm, or ejaculation.

Chlamydia can cause permanent harm to a woman’s reproductive health if left untreated for a long time. For example, chlamydia can cause PID, leading to infertility and chronic pain in the lower abdomen.

Inflammation and pain in the testicles are potential complications of long-term chlamydia in men.

However, if diagnosed early enough, single-dose antibiotics can cure this infection.

You should stay away from sex if you and your partner are treating chlamydia.

For example, suppose your doctor prescribes a single-dose treatment; you should wait 7 days after using the drug before resuming sex.

However, if your medication is for 7 days, you should wait until you complete your dosage before having sex.

Chlamydia in pregnant women has been linked to issues during pregnancy. These issues include pre-term delivery, low birth weight, and untimely rupture of membranes. In addition, the newborn may also get infected from passing through the birth canal. Chlamydia can cause lung infections, pneumonia, and eye defects in infants.

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.