Chlamydia does not cause long-term problems if it is treated before any complications develop. Left untreated, chlamydia can lead to many complications, especially for women. If a woman has chlamydia when she gives birth, her newborn can be infected.
Having a chlamydia infection that was cured does not protect you from a future infection. A new exposure to chlamydia will reinfect you, even if you were treated and cured.
Having chlamydia increases your risk of becoming infected with Reference human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Opens New Window if you are exposed to the virus.Reference 2
Untreated chlamydia can cause a variety of complications.
Complications in women
- Inflammation of the cervix (Reference cervicitis Opens New Window)
- Inflammation of the urethra (Reference urethritis Opens New Window)
- Inflammation of the lining of the uterus (Reference endometritis Opens New Window)
- Inflammation of the glands at the opening of the vagina (Reference Bartholin glands Opens New Window)
- Inflammation in the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries (Reference pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID)
- Pelvic infection (Reference abscess Opens New Window)
- Reference Infertility Opens New Window
- A rare liver inflammation (Reference Fitz-Hugh–Curtis syndrome)
Complications in pregnant women
- Pregnancy outside the uterus (Reference ectopic Opens New Window, or tubal, pregnancy)
- Reference Miscarriage Opens New Window
- Reference Preterm labor Opens New Window
- Reference Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) Opens New Window
- Reference Chronic pelvic pain Opens New Window due to Reference scarring Opens New Window of the pelvic organs
Complications in newborns
- Premature delivery. A premature infant has an increased risk of health problems.
- Inflammation of the surface of the eyes and the lining of the eyelids (Reference conjunctivitis Opens New Window). About one-half of newborns who have chlamydia get conjunctivitis.
- Infection of the nose and throat
- Lung infections, such as Reference pneumonia Opens New Window
- Ear infection (Reference otitis media Opens New Window)
- Urethritis, though this is very rare in infants
Complications in men
- Inflammation of the tubes that hold sperm (Reference epididymitis Opens New Window)
- Inflammation of the prostate, the gland that makes most of the fluid in semen (Reference prostatitis Opens New Window)
Other complications of untreated chlamydia in all people
- Reference Conjunctivitis Opens New Window, spread by touching the infected area and then touching the hand to the eye
- Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the rectum (proctitis), if the chlamydia is from anal sex
- Varied symptoms, such as joint and eye inflammation, caused by bacterial infection (Reference Reiter's syndrome Opens New Window)
- Lymphogranuloma venereum, or LGV. This is caused by a type of chlamydia that is usually rare in the United States, but it is becoming more common in men who have sex with men. It causes open sores in the genital area, headache, fever, fatigue, and swelling of the Reference lymph nodes Opens New Window in the groin. It also causes proctitis in people who get chlamydia through anal sex.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference August 7, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH - Infectious Disease