Chlamydia can be cured by taking a course of antibiotics. If left untreated for an extended period of time, chlamydia can cause infertility and other long-term complications.
You must take the antibiotics as directed and avoid having sex during treatment to cure the chlamydia infection completely.
You can have acquire chlamydia again if you have sex with a partner who has chlamydia or if you fail to take the antibiotics that treat chlamydia as directed. No one is ever immune to chlamydia.
Practice safe sex and get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) — also called sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — regularly to avoid contracting chlamydia or to get appropriate treatment if necessary.
Did you know?
Chlamydia is the most common STD in the United States. The CDC reports that 1.59 million cases were diagnosed in 2016.
Several antibiotics can treat chlamydia. The two most commonly recommended antibiotics to treat chlamydia are:
Your doctor may recommend a different antibiotic if needed. Other antibiotics to treat chlamydia are:
You will need to talk to your doctor about your treatment options for chlamydia if you are pregnant. Some types of antibiotics may not be appropriate.
Infants can also be treated with antibiotics to cure chlamydia.
Antibiotics can cure chlamydia, but they can’t heal some complications that it causes. Some people assigned female at birth with chlamydia may develop a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
PID can cause permanent scarring of the fallopian tubes — the tubes through which an egg travels during ovulation. If the scarring is too bad, it may be difficult or impossible to become pregnant.
Treatment time for chlamydia can vary from one to seven days. Azithromycin requires only one dose for one day, while you must take other antibiotics multiple times a day for seven days.
To cure a chlamydia infection, take the antibiotics exactly as prescribed by your doctor and for the full length of the prescription, being sure to take every dose. There should be no medication left at the end of the treatment period. You cannot save medication in case you acquire chlamydia again.
Contact your doctor if you still have symptoms but have taken all your antibiotics. You will need a follow-up test with your doctor three months after treatment to make sure the chlamydia is completely cured.
You can get chlamydia even after treatment. You may get it again for several reasons, including:
- You did not complete your course of antibiotics as directed and the initial chlamydia did not go away.
- Your sexual partner has untreated chlamydia and gave it to you during sexual activity.
- You used an object during sex that was not properly cleaned and was contaminated with chlamydia.
If you think you have chlamydia, you need to see your doctor immediately and have a chlamydia test. You may have another STD with similar symptoms, and your doctor needs to know the exact STI you have so that you can get the best treatment.
Chlamydia tests involve collecting a urine sample or swabbing the affected area. Your doctor will send the specimen to a lab for testing to see if you have chlamydia or another type of STI.
If your test is positive for chlamydia, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic immediately.
Don’t have sex if you’re being treated for chlamydia or if you’re experiencing symptoms.
After taking the one-day antibiotic treatment, wait a week before having sex to prevent spreading chlamydia to a partner.
Preventing chlamydia begins with knowing more about your sexual partners and establishing safe sex practices.
You can get chlamydia by engaging in a variety of sexual behaviors with someone who has chlamydia. This includes contact with the genitals or other affected areas as well as penetrative sex.
Before having sex, talk to your partners about:
- whether they’ve been tested recently for STDs
- their sexual history
- their other risk factors
Talking to your partner about STDs can be difficult. There are ways to ensure you can have an open and honest conversation about the issue before engaging in sex.
How to talk to your partners
- Be educated about STDs and share facts with your partner.
- Think about what you’d like to get from the conversation.
- Plan what points you want to make.
- Talk to your partner about STDs in a calm setting.
- Give your partner plenty of time to discuss the matter.
- Write down your thoughts and share them with your partner if it’s easier.
- Offer to go together to get tested for STDs.
You don’t have to visit your primary doctor to get tested for STDs. Many clinics offer free, confidential STD screenings.
Finding free testing
You can visit https://gettested.cdc.gov or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636), TTY: 1-888-232-6348, to find out the location of clinics in your area.
The cause of chlamydia is a type of bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. This bacteria occurs in parts of your body that are soft and moist. These areas include your genitals, anus, eyes, and throat.
Chlamydia can be spread through sexual activity. People can give chlamydia to infants during childbirth.
You may have no symptoms with chlamydia or symptoms could develop several weeks after contracting chlamydia. Getting tested for STDs regularly is very important in diagnosing chlamydia.
Visible symptoms of chlamydia vary between people with male and female anatomy.
Symptoms found in people with female anatomy include:
- unusual vaginal discharge
- spotting or bleeding between your periods
- pain during sex
- bleeding after sex
- burning feeling when peeing
- abdominal pain
- lower back pain
Symptoms found in people with male anatomy include:
- discharge from the penis
- burning feeling when peeing
- changes in the testicles, such as pain or swelling
You may also experience chlamydia away from the genitals.
Symptoms in your rectum can include pain, bleeding, and unusual discharge. You may even get chlamydia in your throat, causing redness or soreness or no symptoms at all. Conjunctivitis (pink eye) may be the sign of chlamydia in your eye.
Untreated chlamydia can lead to many serious health conditions.
People with female anatomy can develop pelvic inflammatory disease. This can lead to pelvic pain, complications with pregnancy, and fertility difficulties. Sometimes people become infertile from the effects of untreated chlamydia.
People with male anatomy may develop inflammation of their testicles from untreated chlamydia and may also experience fertility issues.
Babies who acquire chlamydia during childbirth can develop pink eye and pneumonia. It’s important for people to be treated for chlamydia during pregnancy to avoid spreading it to an infant.
Sexual behavior of any kind puts you at risk of contracting chlamydia. Some ways to reduce your chances of getting chlamydia include:
- refraining from sexual activity
- having sex with only one partner
- using barriers, such as condoms or dental dams, when having sex
- getting tested with your partner for STDs
- avoiding sharing objects used during sex
- refraining from douching the vaginal area