Chlamydia is one of the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the world. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone who gets chlamydia will show signs of this infection. Have you ever wondered whether chlamydia can remain asymptomatic and dormant inside your body?
Read on to learn whether chlamydia can be dormant, for how long, and how to detect this disease when it’s asymptomatic.
Can chlamydia be dormant?
The short answer is: yes, chlamydia can be dormant. But as you probably suspect, there are many factors that can come into play when someone gets infected with chlamydia. According to the CDC, a large number of cases of chlamydia are never reported because most people with the disease never develop any symptoms. That makes it difficult to know just how many cases of chlamydia are dormant, but we do know that chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial STD in the United States.
It’s hard to estimate exactly how long chlamydia can lay dormant, since many people who are asymptomatic won’t get tested for the disease. Once the person gets tested, it’s also difficult to ascertain when the infection was acquired, unless the infected person knows exactly when they got the disease — and this isn’t always possible, especially for people who have had multiple sexual partners.
According to statistics published by the NIHR Journals Library, research on this topic has produced a range of estimates that varies greatly from one study to the next. However, some studies have shown that women with asymptomatic chlamydia can be diagnosed with the infection approximately one and a half years after acquiring the disease.
It’s important to keep in mind that the fact that you may not show symptoms of chlamydia doesn’t mean that the bacteria that causes it is inactive. This infection can still lead to long-term health complications if left untreated, even if you never showed any signs of the disease. Additionally, you can pass chlamydia and other STDs on to new partners even if you’re asymptomatic.
According to a study published by the Indian Journal of Medical Researchshowed that as many as 70 to 80 percent of all women with chlamydia, and 50 percent of men with chlamydia are completely asymptomatic. It’s very likely that there are large amounts of asymptomatic people who are unaware of the fact that they have this disease, and as a result, they can transmit it to new partners unknowingly.
What is chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy or childbirth.
Although less common, it’s also possible for you to get chlamydia after sharing sex toys with an infected partner. However, you can’t get chlamydia through kissing, sharing bed sheets or towels, or other forms of casual contact.
Symptoms of chlamydia
When it’s not asymptomatic, chlamydia can cause symptoms that are somewhat similar to those caused by other STDs. According to the Cleveland Clinic, signs and symptoms of chlamydia can include:
- White, grayish, or yellow vaginal discharge
- Increased need to urinate
- Pain or burning during urination or intercourse
- Bleeding or spotting after intercourse or between periods
- Painful intercourse
- Pus in your urine
- Itching or burning sensation in your genitals
- Lower abdominal pain
In males, the symptoms of chlamydia can include:
- Pain during urination or ejaculation
- Watery or mucus-like penile discharge
How is chlamydia diagnosed?
The good news is that chlamydia can be easily diagnosed if you get regular STD testing, even if you’re asymptomatic. According to the Mayo Clinic, different types of samples can be taken for a chlamydia test, such as:
- Urine sample
- Vaginal, urethral, or anal swab
These samples can be taken at a physician’s office or laboratory, or you can take them yourself using an at-home STD testing kit. The good news is that at-home testing kits have been shown to be as reliable as STD tests taken by your doctor; however, it’s very important to follow the instructions included in the kit carefully to ensure that you’re taking a good sample.
Anyone who has started their sexual life should get tested for STDs, but this is even more important if you have had multiple sex partners, have had any type of unprotected sex, or have recently started having sex with a new partner.
Most cases of chlamydia respond very well to antibiotic treatment. According to the NHS, more than 95 percent of people with this STD will be cured after a course of antibiotics. Different antibiotics can be prescribed to treat this disease, but the most common are:
It’s very important for your partner to receive treatment if you test positive for chlamydia, and also for you to abstain from sex while you receive your treatment and for at least 7 additional days after completion. This will prevent you from passing the bacteria to your partner, and from becoming reinfected again. You can learn more about other STDs and testing options at STDWatch.com.
Chlamydia – CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed) - cdc.gov
Chapter 4 Duration of asymptomatic Chlamydia trachomatis infection - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Chlamydia - my.clevelandclinic.org
Chlamydia trachomatis - mayoclinic.org
Chlamydia - treatment - nhs.uk