Medically reviewed on November 22, 2022 by Karen Janson, MS, MD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Roughly three million Americans contract chlamydia each year . Without medical intervention, a chlamydia infection can persist for years if gone unnoticed . Fortunately, once diagnosed, a healthcare provider can provide patients with the right medication to treat the sexually transmitted infection (STI).
That said, how long chlamydia persists will depend on how quickly the infection is diagnosed and treated.
How long does untreated chlamydia last?
While chlamydia is common, it often has no symptoms. In fact, around 70% of females and 90% of males don’t experience any symptoms . As a result, someone could have chlamydia for several years without realizing it.
That said, people who develop chlamydia symptoms typically start experiencing them one week to three months after the initial bacterial infection .
With or without symptoms, an untreated chlamydia infection can cause long-lasting health effects. For instance, it may lead to the development of:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – PID is a painful infection that can wreak havoc on the female reproductive system. It can cause permanent damage to the uterus, ovaries, cervix, and fallopian tubes, which may result in infertility .
- Epididymis – While females may develop PID, males can develop epididymis. This condition is characterized by inflammation of the tube behind the testicles that stores and carries sperm. Like pelvic inflammatory disease, epididymis can cause pain, swelling, and infertility .
- Pregnancy and birth complications – If a person with chlamydia infections becomes pregnant, they may be at greater risk for ectopic pregnancy or premature labor . What’s more, their baby may become infected with chlamydia during birth. Infants who contract chlamydia can develop a lung infection or eye infection .
Due to these health concerns, it’s important to get screened for chlamydia regularly. People under 25 years of age should get screened at least once a year . If you have multiple sex partners or have unprotected sexual intercourse, you may want to get screened even more often (in fact, in some cases chlamydia can come back even after treatment, making it even more important to get tested regularly). Early diagnosis and treatment of chlamydia can prevent potentially serious health issues and reduce your chances of spreading the chlamydial infection to others.
How long does it take to get chlamydia test results?
Regular STI or chlamydia testing can keep your body safe and healthy. Chlamydia can be detected using any of the following tests:
- Urine test – A urine test can uncover chlamydia bacteria within your urine. These types of tests generally take two to five days to yield results. They can be administered at your healthcare provider’s office or from home.
- Blood test – A blood test can determine if your blood contains any chlamydia bacteria antibodies. Theoretically, blood tests can return results in minutes. However, they typically need to be sent to off-site laboratories, extending that time frame to a week or more.
- Swab test – A swab test takes a sample of tissue or fluid from the vagina, penis, anus, or throat. After that, it's sent to the laboratory to see if any chlamydia bacteria grow. Swab test results usually take two to three days.
You can usually discover if you have chlamydia within a week of taking a test, which enables you to pursue prompt chlamydia treatment once you receive your results.
How long does chlamydia last with treatment?
So, how to treat chlamydia? Once you’ve received a positive test result, your healthcare provider will likely prescribe a round of antibiotics. If you take your antibiotics properly, chlamydia has a 95% cure rate .
Some antibiotics for chlamydia must be taken multiple times a day for several days. Others can be administered in a single dose. Either way, it can take around one week for a chlamydia infection to go away . During this treatment period, it’s important to abstain from having sex.
If you continue experiencing chlamydia symptoms after treatment, you should get re-evaluated by your healthcare provider to find out if:
- Your initial treatment was effective.
- You were re-infected by one of your sex partners.
- You have another STI or health condition
Be proactive about your sexual health with Everlywell
If you suspect that you may have chlamydia or you simply want to get screened to be on the safe side, you can do so from home using an Everlywell at-home lab test. Our Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test screens for both chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Here’s how it works:
- Your test will be shipped to your home in discreet packaging
- You can collect your urine sample at home and mail the sample back to the laboratory for testing (prepaid shipping is included with the kit)
- Within days, you'll receive private, secure results you can view online on your device
With Everlywell, it’s that easy to be proactive about your sexual health.
How to prevent chlamydia: key steps to take
How to test for chlamydia
Untreated chlamydia in men and women
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- Epididymitis - STI treatment guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published July 22, 2021. Accessed November 3, 2022. URL
- Detailed STD facts - STDs & pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published April 12, 2022. Accessed November 3, 2022. URL
- Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea: Recommendation statement. American Family Physician. Published April 1, 2015. Accessed November 3, 2022. URL
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- CDC – Chlamydia treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published July 22, 2021. Accessed November 3, 2022. URL