How long can you have chlamydia before it causes damage?

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How long can you have chlamydia before it causes damage?

Written by Hannah Kingston on July 27, 2021

How long can you have chlamydia before it causes damage? We talk you through what happens if chlamydia goes untreated over a long period of time.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 2.8 million people are infected each year.

How long can you have chlamydia before it causes damage? 

Untreated chlamydia can lead to a number of serious health complications. 

In women  pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may occur. PID is a serious health condition which can cause infertility (not being able to get pregnant), chronic pelvic pain, tubal pregnancies, and the continued spread of the disease.

Untreated chlamydia in pregnant women may result in premature rupture of membranes, preterm delivery and possible tubal pregnancy in a small percent of women. In addition, chlamydia can cause conjunctival (eye) and pneumonic (lung) infection in the newborn

what-happens-if-chlamydia-goes-untreated

In men, untreated chlamydia can cause urethral infection and complications such as swollen and tender testicles.

Persons with a chlamydia infection have an increased chance of getting other infections such as gonorrhea or HIV.

It is so important to regularly get screened for sexually transmitted infections due to the fact that oftentimes, the symptoms of chlamydia are not easy to identify. Sadly untreated chlamydia may lead to irreversible health complications such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, or chronic pelvic pain.

What may lead to increased worry is chlamydia is most common in sexually active young adults in the United States. More than half of all infections involve people ages 18 to 24. 

Read: Does chlamydia go away? 

It is possible to be infected with chlamydia without knowing. The longer chlamydia goes untreated, the more health complications that may occur. 

​​What happens if chlamydia goes untreated for 2 years?

In most cases, chlamydia symptoms will occur within weeks of exposure. Chlamydia symptoms usually appear within one to three weeks after being infected. They can range in severity levels. 

If chlamydia goes untreated for 2 years, it may lead to damage to the reproductive system.

what-happens-if-chlamydia-goes-untreated

Chlamydial infections in women may spread to the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which may damage the fallopian tubes and uterus and cause chronic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy. Women who have chlamydia also are at much greater risk for becoming infected with HIV. In men, complications from chlamydia are rare.

Can you have chlamydia for 5 years without knowing?

If untreated, chlamydia can develop into serious reproductive and other health problems with both short-term and long-term effects. The damage is often “silent.”

10 percent to 15 percent women with untreated chlamydia will suffer with pelvic inflammatory disease. 

Problems among men are rare. Infection can cause epididymitis, a painful condition of the testicles that can lead to infertility if not treated.

Chlamydia infection can cause reactive arthritis, formerly known as Reiter’s syndrome, although this is rare. Symptoms include arthritis, skin lesions and swelling of the eye and urethra.

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