Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can affect men and women. If left untreated, it can lead to serious long-term health problems.
One of the complications that chlamydia can cause is erectile dysfunction (ED). However, this tends to be the result of chlamydia infecting a man’s prostate and causing prostatitis. It’s not uncommon for men with prostatitis to also have ED.
Symptoms of chlamydia
You may have chlamydia for weeks before you notice any symptoms. Damage can occur without you being aware you’ve been infected. Women in particular are vulnerable to serious problems relating to chlamydia.
When chlamydia symptoms do appear, they’re often like those of other STDs. That means seeking treatment to determine exactly what’s wrong is essential.
Early chlamydia symptoms in men include:
- discharge from the end of the penis
- pain or a burning sensation when urinating
- pain and possibly swelling in the testicles
Women may also experience pain when urinating, as well as abdominal pain, vaginal discharge, and bleeding between periods.
The long-term complications of chlamydia are more serious for women than they are for men. Women risk developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) if the chlamydia infection spreads to the uterus and fallopian tubes. PID can make it impossible for some women to become pregnant. PID can also lead to an ectopic pregnancy, a potentially fatal condition in which a fetus develops outside of the uterus.
In men, chlamydia is unlikely to prevent you from fathering children. However, pain in the tube that carries sperm from the testicles can be a long-term problem.
Chlamydia treatments and ED
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can be spread through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sexual contact.
Like most bacterial infections, the main treatment for chlamydia is a course of antibiotics. This particular STD is treatable. Medication is usually able to knock out the infection.
It’s important that you take the antibiotics as your doctor prescribed them. Your partner should also get treated. This will help prevent the disease from being spread back and forth.
There is a common myth that having chlamydia once makes you immune to the infection a second time. This isn’t true. You and your partner need to take the full course of antibiotics. You should also refrain from sex until your treatment is completed.
Causes of ED
Erectile dysfunction is simply the inability to have or maintain an erection that makes sexually intercourse pleasing for both partners. There are many possible causes.
Chlamydia can cause your prostate to become infected. This can make the prostate swell, restricting blood flow to your penis.
Chlamydia can also cause pain in your testicles. Sex may be painful for you and your partner if you’re both infected. This pain, or anxiety about having an STD, may make it difficult to stay sexually aroused.
Some ED causes may be psychological. The brain plays a critical role in sexual arousal. Mental or emotional conditions that interfere with the brain’s ability to trigger feelings of sexual excitement and maintain those feelings can lead to ED.
Some of the more common psychological causes of ED include:
Healthy blood circulation is also essential to getting and keeping an erection. Conditions that affect the health of your blood vessels and the flow of blood through your veins and arteries can lead to ED.
Physical health conditions that may be associated with ED are:
- atherosclerosis (narrowed or clogged arteries)
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- sleeping problems
- multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- prostatitis and treatments for prostate problems
Lifestyle choices and medication
Smoking, alcohol consumption, and certain medications, such as antidepressants and high blood pressure drugs, may also cause ED.
When should you see a doctor
If you find out your partner has chlamydia or any STD, you should go to a doctor or clinic and get tested. Usually, a urine test is all that is needed to confirm a diagnosis.
If you have symptoms, such as discharge from your penis or pain while urinating, you shouldn’t wait to see a doctor. If there is discharge, a swab of a woman’s cervix or a man’s urethra may be performed for additional diagnostic information. Waiting too long can only worsen your health. Chlamydia won’t get better on its own.
Occasional episodes of ED are common for most men. Even young men experience erectile dysfunction. If these episodes become more frequent or you find yourself unable to become aroused or stay aroused, see your doctor or a urologist. A urologist is a specialist in male sexual health. Make an appointment and be ready to describe your symptoms.
Tips for safe sex
Preventing future bouts with chlamydia or other STDS, as well as preventing an unwanted pregnancy, rely on both partners being proactive about safe sex.
Here are a few key tips:
- Wear a condom.
- Avoid sexual contact with anyone but your partner.
- Get tested for STDs periodically, even if you’re in a monogamous relationship.
- Talk with your partner about their sexual history, and be open with them about yours.
- Avoid unprotected sex with someone whose sexual health you’re uncertain about.
Chlamydia is a treatable condition. Erectile dysfunction can usually be treated too, often with medication that has relatively few side effects.
Treating underlying causes of ED, such as diabetes, depression, or other conditions, may also help treat ED. To help make sure ED and chlamydia are only temporary problems, see your doctor at the first sign of symptoms.
You should also feel free to ask your healthcare providers any questions related to sexual health. It’s very likely they’ve heard such concerns many times before.