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Chlamydia: Long Term Consequences

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Updated February 03, 2014

Chlamydia: Long Term Consequences

Worldwide, trachoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness.

Photo courtesy of World Health Organization (WHO)/ Photo by A. Kochar

An early chlamydia infection frequently may not cause any symptoms, but that does not mean that it is not affecting your health. Chlamydia can have serious long-term effects in both men and women.

Consequences for women outside of pregnancy:

For women, one of the most serious consequence of chlamydia is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or PID. PID occurs when a bacterial infection, such as chlamydia, moves into the upper reproductive tract. The uterus, fallopian tubes, and surrounding areas may become swollen, scarred, or filled with pus. Although PID can sometimes be treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, surgery may also necessary.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is the leading causes of preventable infertility in the United States. Each episode of PID increases a woman’s risk of becoming infertile. It is also associated with ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the fallopian tubes instead of the uterus), chronic pelvic pain, and even death. Fortunately, the most serious complications of PID are largely preventable if women are regularly screened and treated for chlamydia and other bacterial infections.

Consequences for pregnant women:

If a woman with untreated chlamydia becomes pregnant, it can also affect the health of her baby. Chlamydia is associated with pre-term birth. Pre-term birth is when a baby is born before it is fully developed. This can have long-term health consequences for the infant. Chlamydia infection during pregnancy is also associated with infant eye infections and pneumonia. Worldwide, chlamydia eye infections of are one of the leading causes of preventable blindness.

Consequences for men:

Untreated chlamydia infections in men are also problematic. They can lead to a condition called epididymitis – an infection of the tubes where sperm mature in the testicles. With epididymitis, men may experience atrophy, or shrinking, of the infected testicle. They may also get abscesses, or pus-filled lesions, in their scrotum. Finally, just as in women, if chlamydia remains untreated it can lead to infertility.

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