Yes, you can contract chlamydia more than once, although it’s rare for it to reoccur or persist after correct treatment.
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics, usually azithromycin or doxycycline.
In order to make sure chlamydia is cured, you need to take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor. You need to take every single dose — don’t stop taking the antibiotics until there are none left.
If you’ve taken all your antibiotics but you still have symptoms, contact your doctor or another healthcare professional.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), you’ll need a follow-up test three months after treatment to ensure that the infection is cured.
There are a few reasons why you might contract chlamydia a second time:
- The initial infection wasn’t cured because the course of antibiotics wasn’t completed as directed.
- A sexual partner transmitted chlamydia to you.
- You used a sex toy that was contaminated with chlamydia.
A 2014 study suggests that chlamydia can live in the gastrointestinal tract and reinfect the genitals, causing chlamydia symptoms to reappear after the genital infection went away.
However, this study only looked at animal models of chlamydia. Research on human participants is needed.
The symptoms of chlamydia typically disappear once you finish your antibiotics. This can vary in time, as some chlamydia antibiotic courses are one dose taken on one day, while others last longer.
No home remedy for chlamydia can replace antibiotics. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection, so you need to take antibiotics to cure it.
However, there are a few ways you can soothe symptoms while you wait for the antibiotics to get to work. For example:
- Use pain medications, such as ibuprofen to reduce pain
- Use a cold pack to soothe inflammation.
- A herb called goldenseal might reduce inflammation and other symptoms.
- Use an echinacea supplement aid your immune system.
Remember that these home remedies might soothe the symptoms of chlamydia, but they don’t actually cure chlamydia in itself. The best way to soothe the symptoms is to use antibiotics.
If you take your antibiotics as directed, chlamydia is likely to go away. But if it’s left untreated, it can cause a few complications.
For example, if you have a vulva, you could develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is a painful infection that could damage your uterus, cervix, and ovaries.
Untreated chlamydia can also lead to scarred fallopian tubes, which can cause infertility.
If you’re pregnant, untreated chlamydia can be transmitted to the baby during vaginal delivery. Chlamydia can cause eye infections and pneumonia in newborns.
Untreated chlamydia can lead to epididymitis, which is when the epididymis (the tube that holds the testicles in place) becomes inflamed, causing pain.
Chlamydia can also spread to the prostate gland, which can lead to painful sex, lower back pain, and a fever.
Fortunately, treatment for chlamydia is relatively straightforward. And if it’s treated quickly, you’re unlikely to experience any long-term complications.
If you have a sexual partner, or if you’ve recently had sex with someone, talk with them about your chlamydia diagnosis. They’ll need to get tested and treated, too.
If your sexual partner doesn’t seek treatment, there’s a risk that they can transmit it back to you, even after your infection has been cured.
Need help starting the conversation? Check out our tips on sharing your STI status.
To prevent chlamydia from reoccurring, there are a few steps you can take:
- Take all your antibiotics as directed by a healthcare professional, even if your symptoms improve.
- Ensure your current sexual partner is also treated for chlamydia so you don’t transmit it back and forth.
- Clean all sex toys thoroughly. Read our handy guide to cleaning sex toys.
- Use barrier methods like condoms during sexual activity.
Chlamydia can also be transmitted to a baby during vaginal delivery if the person giving birth has an untreated chlamydia infection.
If you suspect you have chlamydia, see a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Abstain from all sexual activity until your appointment.
If you aren’t comfortable getting tested for STIs with your usual provider, you can find a clinic in your area.
There are many free or low-cost clinics. Here’s how to find one near you.
You can also visit GetTested or call CDC Info at 800-232-4636 (TTY: 888-232-6348) to find local clinics.
It’s possible to have chlamydia more than once.
To prevent reoccurrence or reinfection, finish your full course of antibiotic treatment, and talk with your sexual partner(s) about getting tested and treated for chlamydia, too.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.