What You Need to Know About Signs of Chlamydia
If untreated, chlamydial infections can progress to serious reproductive and other health problems, with both short- 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, uterus, and 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 five times more likely to become infected with HIV if exposed to the virus.
Complications among men are rare. Infection sometimes spreads to the epididymis (a tube that carries sperm from the testis), causing pain, fever, and, in rare cases, sterility.
Although uncommon, genital chlamydial infection can cause arthritis that can be accompanied by skin lesions and inflammation of the eye and urethra (Reiter's syndrome).
To help prevent the serious consequences of chlamydia, screening for the disease is recommended for all sexually active women age 25 and younger, at least annually. An annual screening test is also recommended for older women with risk factors for chlamydia (a new sex partner or multiple sex partners). All pregnant women should have a screening test for chlamydia.