How Long Does It Take for Chlamydia to Go Away?

If you or your partner has been recently diagnosed with chlamydia, you may wonder how long it will take to go away, and when you will be able to have sex again. With antibiotic treatment, chlamydia should go away in 1-2 weeks. However, because chlamydia may often have no symptoms, research has found that it is possible to have chlamydia for over a year without knowing it. 

What Is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the chlamydia trachomatis (C. trachomatis) bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chlamydia is most common in sexually active females ages 15-24. However, it’s important to note that chlamydia can affect people of all genders.

You can catch chlamydia through having vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone infected with the chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. Chlamydia can affect the genital area as well as the anus. You cannot catch chlamydia from kissing or casual contact, such as holding hands or cuddling.

Symptoms of chlamydia differ based on your anatomy. Symptoms of chlamydia in females include itching or burning around the vagina, painful periods, abnormal discharge, bleeding in between periods, pain during sex, bleeding during sex, painful urination, rectal pain, and discharge or bleeding from the rectum.  

Symptoms of chlamydia in males include cloudy or clear discharge from the tip of the penis, pain when urinating, or pain or swelling around the testicles. Symptoms may also include rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding.   

How Long Does Chlamydia Last?

The duration of a chlamydia infection depends on whether you have symptoms or not. It is estimated that 70-75% of chlamydia infections are asymptomatic, meaning most individuals who have chlamydia do not show any symptoms. 

According to research, an asymptomatic chlamydia infection, on average, lasts a year. Another estimate found an average of 1.4 years. 

However, the good news is that when you do seek treatment for chlamydia, the duration of infection is much shorter, thanks to antibiotics. A chlamydia infection will clear up with an antibiotic in 1 to 2 weeks.  

Can Chlamydia Go Away on Its Own?

It’s highly unlikely that chlamydia will go away on its own, and an infection can last over a year without treatment. Even if your symptoms clear up, it is still possible to transmit it to other people, which is why it’s crucial to get treatment for chlamydia. You should also regularly get tested for STIs if you are sexually active.  

How Do You Know When Chlamydia Is Gone?

Chlamydia does not stay in the body after it is treated with antibiotics, so once you have completed your treatment, it is gone. Sometimes, a healthcare professional may recommend you get tested a second time to ensure it is gone.  

Does Chlamydia Go Away Completely After Treatment?

After taking a full course of antibiotics, chlamydia should go away completely. If it does not clear up in 1-2 weeks, contact a doctor. 

Can Chlamydia Come Back by Itself?

There are certain situations in which reinfection with chlamydia may occur:

  1. If you or your partner has sex with someone else with chlamydia 
  2. If you use a sex toy that has the chlamydia bacteria on it
  3. If you did not take the full course of antibiotics prescribed to you
  4. If your partner did not also receive treatment for chlamydia 

What Happens if Chlamydia Goes Untreated?

If left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious complications. Therefore, you should never try to “wait out” the infection to see if it goes away on its own. If left untreated, chlamydia can lead to various serious complications, such as: infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancies. 

How to Treat Chlamydia?

Chlamydia can be treated successfully with antibiotics. If you think you might have chlamydia, your doctor will order a urine test, a vaginal cotton swab, or a blood test. If you test positive, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

The two most commonly prescribed antibiotics for chlamydia are Azithromycin and Doxycycline. You and your partner must not have sex again until you both have completed treatment. If your sexual partner(s) do not also get treated, you can get reinfected with chlamydia.

When to See a Doctor?

If you have symptoms of chlamydia, or if your chlamydia returns after treatment, it’s time to see a doctor. You should always consult a doctor if you have any symptoms of chlamydia, or symptoms that could be another STI, such as unusual discharge from the penis or vagina, a rash, itchiness, painful urination or sex, bleeding between periods or after sex, or any other unusual symptoms. 

You should also see a doctor if your partner is diagnosed with chlamydia or if your chlamydia symptoms return after completing treatment. 

Get help from an online doctor 

If you have symptoms of chlamydia, or other health concerns DrHouse can help. With DrHouse, you can access an online doctor 365 days a year. With DrHouse, you can receive medical prescriptions and prescription refills, and have your medical questions answered from the privacy of your own home.

Key Takeaways

Chlamydia is an STI caused by the chlamydia trachomatis (C. trachomatis) bacteria. Anyone who is sexually active can get chlamydia, regardless of gender.

Chlamydia is most common in young females ages 15-24. Chlamydia is a very treatable STI, but if left untreated can cause serious complications, such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), infertility, ectopic pregnancies, and reactive arthritis, among others. 

The good news is, with antibiotic treatment, a chlamydia infection will clear up in 1-2 weeks. You should always complete treatment and follow the doctors’ instructions before having sex again to avoid spreading the infection. 

Sources:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, April 12). National overview. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved August 17, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2020/overview.htm#Chlamydia
  • Chlamydia: Causes, symptoms, treatment & prevention. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4023-chlamydia  
  • Geisler W. M. (2010). Duration of untreated, uncomplicated Chlamydia trachomatis genital infection and factors associated with chlamydia resolution: a review of human studies. The Journal of Infectious Diseases201 Suppl 2, S104–S113. https://doi.org/10.1086/652402
  • Korenromp, E. L., Sudaryo, M. K., de Vlas, S. J., Gray, R. H., Sewankambo, N. K., Serwadda, D., Wawer, M. J., & Habbema, J. D. (2002). What proportion of episodes of gonorrhoea and chlamydia becomes symptomatic?. International journal of STD & AIDS13(2), 91–101. https://doi.org/10.1258/0956462021924712
  • Patel, C. G., Trivedi, S., & Tao, G. (2018). The Proportion of Young Women Tested for Chlamydia Who Had Urogenital Symptoms in Physician Offices. Sexually Transmitted Diseases45(9), e72–e74. https://doi.org/10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000858
  • Price MJ, Ades AE, Soldan K, et al. The natural history of Chlamydia trachomatis infection in women: a multi-parameter evidence synthesis. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2016 Mar. (Health Technology Assessment, No. 20.22.) Chapter 4, Duration of asymptomatic Chlamydia trachomatis infection. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK350655/
  • Turner, K. M., Adams, E. J., Lamontagne, D. S., Emmett, L., Baster, K., & Edmunds, W. J. (2006). Modelling the effectiveness of chlamydia screening in England. Sexually Transmitted Infections82(6), 496–502. https://doi.org/10.1136/sti.2005.019067

DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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