Long Term Effects of Chlamydia

The Risks of Leaving it Untreated


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Undiagnosed or untreated chlamydia can lead to a range of complications. These complications are often referred to as "silent" as most of the damage is internal and often unnoticed (CDC, 2015). While these complications can be more serious for females, there are some long term effects for males as well. There are also some long term effects that can affect anyone across both sexes.

Chlamydia can be transferred from by your hand to your eye and this can cause an infection or irritation of the mucous membrane called conjunctivitis. It can cause the eye to look red or pink and may be accompanied by a green or yellow drainage from the eye. Chlamydia can also cause inflammation of the mucous membrane of the rectum through unprotected anal sex. Along with these potential complications, chlamydia places you at higher risk of HIV and LGV (WedMD, 2014).

Chlamydia Complications for Males

Long term effects of chlamydia for males centers around developing problems with the reproductive organs. Chlamydia can branch out to the testicles and epididymis, the tubes that take the sperm from the testicles, and cause them to swell which can become quite painful and if it is left untreated, it can affect fertility. Males may also experience SARA, or reactive arthritis, where the joints, urethra, and eyes become inflamed. There is no cure for SARA but many people get better within a few months and may use ibuprofen to reduce discomfort and symptoms (NHS, 2015).

Chlamydia Complications for Females

Chlamydia has potentially more long term effects for females over males. If left untreated or undiagnosed, it can lead to infertility or even a condition that damages the fallopian tubes, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) (Summer Wellness Programs, 2013). Other complications can occur if you are pregnant and have untreated chlamydia. The baby can get the infection and it can cause the baby to develop an eye or lung infection. It may also increase the risk of your baby being born with a low birth weight or even prematurely. Chlamydia also increases the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth (NHS, 2015).

Due to the damage that chlamydia does to the fallopian tubes, there is an increased risk that a fertilized egg can implant outside of the womb in what is referred to as an ectopic pregnancy. This can cause complications for the baby and mother and women who have developed an ectopic pregnancy have a 1 in 5 chance of developing another one (Dr.Ed, 2015).

Avoid Complications With Regular Screenings

Taking care of your sexual health can be a very important piece of taking care of your overall health. All of these potential complications can be avoided entirely by ensuring that you are practicing safe sex, getting tested regularly, and following all direction given by medical professionals when receiving the treatment for chlamydia. It is also important to have an open dialogue about your sexual health with any partners you have, this can be a strong step to keeping yourself safe from contracting chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections. Get tested regularly and stay safe!

Written February 24, 2012 | Updated November 8, 2015
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Article References

CDC. (2015, 09 24). Chlamydia - CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed). Retrieved 11 08, 2015, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm

Dr.Ed. (2015). Chlamydia and Infertility. Retrieved 11 08, 2015, from DrEd: https://www.dred.com/uk/chlamydia-and-infertility.html

NHS. (2015). Complications of Chlymadia. Retrieved 11 08, 2015, from NHS Choices: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Chlamydia/Pages/Complications.aspx

Summer Wellness Programs. (2013, 10). Chlamydia. Retrieved 11 08, 2015, from Palo Alto Medical Foundation: http://www.pamf.org/teen/sex/std/std/chlamydia.html

WedMD. (2014, 06 01). Chlamydia - What Happens. Retrieved 11 08, 2015, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/tc/chlamydia-what-happens

Image References

Someone else's art deserves recognition! The images presented in this article were borrowed from the following places:

Header Image: http://www.nakedtruth.idaho.gov/images/Chlamydia_image.jpg | Retrieved April 28, 2015

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