Chlamydia complications typically affect women more than men. In women, untreated infection can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease. This may cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues, which can ultimately lead to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and ectopic pregnancy. Chlamydia complications among men are uncommon, but may include pain, fever, and, in rare cases, sterility.
If left untreated, chlamydial infections can progress to serious reproductive and other health problems, with both short-term and long-term consequences. Like the disease itself, the damage that chlamydia causes is often "silent."
In women, untreated infection can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This happens in up to 40 percent of women with untreated chlamydia. PID can cause permanent damage to the:
- Fallopian tubes
- Surrounding tissues.
The damage can lead to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus). Women infected with chlamydia are up to 5 times more likely to become infected with HIV, if exposed.
Complications among men are rare. Infection sometimes spreads to the epididymis (a tube that carries sperm from the testis), causing pain, fever, and, rarely, sterility.
In rare cases, genital chlamydial infection can cause arthritis that can be accompanied by skin lesions and inflammation of the eye and urethra (Reiter's syndrome).