Yes, chlamydia can come back: 10 things to know
Yes, you can get chlamydia more than once, although it is rare for it to recur or persist after proper treatment.
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics, usually azithromycin or doxycycline.
In order to make sure that the chlamydia is cured, you must take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor. You must take each dose – do not stop taking the antibiotics until all are left.
If you have taken all of your antibiotics but still have symptoms, contact your doctor or other healthcare professional.
There are several reasons why you might get chlamydia a second time:
- The initial infection was not cured because the antibiotic treatment was not completed as directed.
- You have had chlamydia from a sexual partner.
- You have used a sextoy contaminated with chlamydia.
A 2014 study suggests that chlamydia can live in the gastrointestinal tract and re-infect the genitals, causing symptoms of chlamydia to reappear after the genital infection clears.
However, this study only looked at animal models of chlamydia. Research on human participants is needed.
Symptoms of chlamydia usually go away once you are finished with your antibiotics. This can vary over time, as some antibiotic treatments for chlamydia are one dose taken over a 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 several ways you can ease the symptoms while you are waiting for the antibiotics to work. For example:
- Use pain relievers, such as ibuprofen to reduce pain
- Use a cold compress to soothe the inflammation.
- An herb called goldenseal can reduce inflammation and other symptoms.
- Use an echinacea supplement to help your immune system.
Keep in mind that these home remedies can alleviate the symptoms of chlamydia, but they do not actually cure chlamydia on their own. The best way to relieve symptoms is to use antibiotics.
If you take your antibiotics as directed, the chlamydia will likely go away. But if left untreated, it can lead to some complications.
For example, if you have a vulva, you could develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). IRS is a painful infection that could damage your uterus, cervix, and ovaries.
Untreated chlamydia can also lead to scarred fallopian tubes, which can lead to infertility.
If you are pregnant, untreated chlamydia can be passed to the baby during vaginal birth. 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 testes in place) becomes inflamed, causing pain.
Chlamydia can also spread to the prostate, which can lead to painful sex, lower back pain, and fever.
Fortunately, the 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 have recently had sex with someone, tell them about your diagnosis of chlamydia. They will also need to be tested and treated.
If your sexual partner does not seek treatment, there is a risk that they will pass it on to you, even after your infection has cleared up.
Need help starting the conversation? Check out our tips for sharing your STI status.
To prevent chlamydia from recurring, there are a few things you can do:
- Take all your antibiotics as directed by a healthcare practitioner, even if your symptoms improve.
- Make sure your current sex partner is also being treated for chlamydia so that you don’t pass it back and forth.
- Thoroughly clean all sex toys. Read our how-to guide to cleaning sex toys.
- Use barrier methods such as condoms during sexual activity.
A type of bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis causes chlamydia. This bacteria can settle in the tissues of your genitals, anus, eyes or throat.
It is usually passed from person to person through penetrative vaginal or anal sex or oral sex, although non-penetrating sex can also pass it.
Chlamydia can also be passed to a baby during vaginal birth if the person giving birth has an untreated chlamydia infection.
If you think you have chlamydia, see a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Abstain from all sexual activity until your date.
If you are not comfortable getting tested for STIs with your regular 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 Get tested or call CDC Info at 800-232-4636 (TTY: 888-232-6348) to find local clinics.
It is possible to have chlamydia more than once.
To avoid recurrence or reinfection, finish your full course of antibiotics and discuss with your sexual partner (s) the possibility of getting tested and treated for chlamydia as well.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance writer and editor based in Grahamstown, South Africa. His writings cover issues related to social justice, cannabis and health. You can contact her on Twitter.