Which health problems can result from untreated chlamydia?

Like the disease itself, the damage chlamydia causes is often "silent."

For women, untreated chlamydia may lead to:

    • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID occurs when chlamydia bacteria infect the cells of the cervix, then spread to the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. PID occurs in up to 40 percent of women with untreated chlamydia. PID can lead to:
          o Infertility, meaning you can't get pregnant. The infection scars the fallopian tubes and keeps eggs from being fertilized.
          o Ectopic or tubal pregnancy. This happens when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. It is a medical emergency.
          o Chronic pelvic pain, which is ongoing pain, most often from scar tissue.
    • Cystitis (siss-TEYE-tuhss), inflammation of the bladder.
    • HIV/AIDS. Women who have chlamydia are 5 times more likely to get HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from a partner who is infected with it.

For men, untreated chlamydia may lead to:
    • Infection and scarring of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the body
    • Prostatitis (prah-stuh-TEYE-tuhss), swelling of the prostate gland
    • Infection in the tube that carries sperm from the testes, causing pain and fever
    • Infertility

For women and men, untreated chlamydia may lead to:
    • Chlamydia bacteria in the throat, if you have oral sex with an infected partner
    • Proctitis (prok-TEYE-tuhss), which is an infection of the lining of the rectum, if you have anal sex with an infected partner
    • Reactive arthritis, which causes arthritis, eye redness, and urinary tract problems

For pregnant women, chlamydia infections may lead to premature delivery. And babies born to infected mothers can get:
    • Infections in their eyes, called conjunctivitis (kuhn-junk-tih-VEYE-tuhss) or pinkeye. Symptoms include discharge from the eyes and swollen eyelids. The symptoms most often show up within the first 10 days of life. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
    • Pneumonia. Symptoms include congestion and a cough that keeps getting worse. Both symptoms most often show up within 3 to 6 weeks of birth.

Both of these infant health problems can be treated.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.