Chlamydia Complications

Bhavna Singh   by Bhavna Singh, MS, Biotechnology    Last updated on September 26, 2019,

complications of chlamydia


Complications of Chlamydia

Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection is the most common infection that spreads through vaginal fluid and semen of infected person to healthy person. In most of the cases, the infected person may not develop any symptom.

However, the infection spreads in with normal fever, pain and discharge from genitals. Half of the individuals with infection may not be aware of it and may pass it to their sexual partner. Initially, the infection is mild but if left untreated it may develop into serious complications. Read about the symptoms of Chlamydia.

Chlamydial complications affect women more as compared to men. Untreated Chlamydia can spread up to the uterus and fallopian tubes resulting in infertility and ectopic pregnancy. Chlamydia complications among men are rare but not absent. In men, it may result in pain in testicles and sterility.

Following are the complications of Chlamydia infection.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PIDs)

Untreated Chlamydia infection in women leads to the development of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID. It is an infection of the uterus and fallopian tube and causes severe pelvic pain and fever.

Severe cases may also require hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics. Severe PID can damage fallopian tube, ovaries, uterus and cervix. PID can cause serious problems like:

  • Infertility and difficulty in conceiving
  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Increased risk of ectopic pregnancy (fertilized egg implants itself outside womb)

The most common site of implantation in ectopic pregnancy is the fallopian tube. As the fetus grows, the chances of bursting of the fallopian tubes increase leading to heavy internal bleeding and even death.

The symptoms of PID are almost similar to symptoms of Chlamydia which include pain during intercourse, pain during urination and abnormal bleeding between periods or after sex.

Untreated infections travel up to womb and may cause endometritis and salpingitis. PID does have serious consequences. It can be silent leading to abdominal and lower back pain and with time leads to permanent damage to reproductive system. Also, women with PID have chances of developing cervical cancer.

Treatment of PID is done with antibiotics course. If treated early, the risks of permanent complications like infertility are less. However, regular consultation from doctor is required. Read about treating Chlamydia infection.

Infection near testicles (epididymis)

The epididymis is Chlamydia infection that can inflame the testicles. This infection may result in fever, pain and swelling of the testis. This inflammation can be treated using antibiotics.

There are chances it could affect the person’s fertility.

Chlamydia can also spread to prostate gland and cause prostatitis (rectal infection). Infection in prostate causes pain during or after sex, lower back pain, fever and painful urination. The inflammation is usually treated with antibiotics.

HIV and other STIs

People having Chlamydia trachomatis are generally at high risk of getting infected with other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They may also develop gonorrhea, HIV and AIDS.

Reactive Arthritis

People who have Chlamydia are at high risk of developing reactive arthritis or Reiter's syndrome. Chlamydia is one of the most common causes of sexually acquired reactive arthritis (SARA). This condition affects eyes, joints and urethra altogether. Eyes, joint and urethra become inflamed usually in a week of getting the infection. Though SARA can affect both men and women, it is more common in men.

Currently, there is no cure of SARA, but most people get better with treatment. Pain killers and non-steroidal drugs can be used help to relieve pain for some time.

Complications in pregnancy and infants

Untreated Chlamydia in pregnant women can pass on to the developing baby. The infection is passed when the baby passes through birth canal during delivery.

The baby may have an eye infection (conjunctivitis) and lung infection (pneumonia). Both the cases cause severe damage to the baby. If the new born baby has any of the symptoms or the mother has the previous history of Chlamydia, your doctor should be consulted.

Untreated Chlamydia also increases the risk of baby being pre-maturely born or has low birth weight. There are also chances of miscarriage and still birth. Severe and untreated conditions in new born babies can lead to permanent blindness.

Other complications

Some other serious conditions also develop with Chlamydia infection. These are:

  • Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome (chronic or persistent pain in pelvic)
  • Proctitis (Rectal infection)

Bhavna Singh

Bhavna Singh is a biotechnologist with a special interest in molecular biology, genetic engineering, recombinant DNA technology, and biochemistry. She pursued her Master’s degree in Biotechnology from Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida. Bhavna has also worked as a Research Fellow at Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi.

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