Connection Between Chlamydia and Erectile Dysfunction
Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. It is possible for both men and women to get infected by chlamydia.(1)
If this sexually transmitted disease (STD) is left untreated, it can cause many severe and dangerous long-term health problems, one of which is erectile dysfunction. Chlamydia can cause erectile dysfunction when the bacteria infect the prostate gland in men, causing a condition known as prostatitis.
In many people, the STD does not cause any symptoms due to which they remain unaware that they are infected with chlamydia. Apart from erectile dysfunction, if left untreated, then chlamydia can also cause other problems such as:
- An increased risk of getting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
- Permanent infertility in women
- A painful condition is known as a pelvic inflammatory disease in women(2)
You may go on for several weeks after the initial exposure to the bacteria before you start to feel any symptoms of chlamydia. This is why damage can already occur without you being aware of being infected and having chlamydia.
Symptoms of Chlamydia
The symptoms of chlamydia, when they appear, are very similar to symptoms of other STDs. This often makes it difficult for doctors to narrow down on a diagnosis of exactly which STD you have.
In men, some of the early signs of chlamydia may include:
- Pain and possible swelling in the testicles
- Burning sensation or pain while passing urine
- Discharge from the tip of the penis
In women, the symptoms may include:
Complications of Chlamydia
In the long-term, complications from chlamydia are more severe for women than they are for men. Women may develop the pelvic inflammatory disease if the infection spreads to the fallopian tubes and the uterus. The pelvic inflammatory disease makes it nearly impossible for women to conceive and also increases the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy. (3) An ectopic pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition in which the fetus develops outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes.(4)
In men, chlamydia can infect the prostate, which causes a complication known as prostatitis. This can ultimately cause erectile dysfunction.(5) The bacteria can infect the urethra in men, which is the tube that transports the sperm outside of the body. Over a period of time, it is possible for the chlamydia bacteria to travel through this tube and reach the prostate gland.
Once the prostate gets infected and inflamed, it may constrict the blood flow to the penis, which makes it difficult to get or keep an erection.
It is important to note that, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chlamydia can spread to the sexual partner even when the male partner does not ejaculate during intercourse.(6)
Chlamydia is unlikely to cause any fertility problems in men, but it can cause pain in the urethra, making it a long-term health problem.
Treatment of Chlamydia and Erectile Dysfunction
Since chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease, it can spread quickly through unsafe or unprotected vaginal, anal, or even oral sex.
Similar to most STDs, the primary treatment for chlamydia is prescribed antibiotics. Chlamydia is a treatable infection, and medication is able to clear up the disease effectively. However, it is essential that you follow the doctor’s prescription and have the antibiotics in the exact manner as advised by your doctor. Your sexual partner will also need to get treated to prevent the infection from being transmitted back and forth again. Failing to finish the entire course of antibiotics may cause some bacteria to survive, and the infection may reoccur.
- If chlamydia infects the prostate gland in men, then it causes the prostate to become inflamed, which restricts the flow of blood to the penis.
- Chlamydia can also cause pain in the testicles, and having sex can become a painful experience if both you and your partner are infected.
- The pain and lack of proper blood flow to the penis, making it difficult for men to maintain an erection, leading to erectile dysfunction.
- Taking the complete course antibiotics can help cure the chlamydia infection that is causing prostatitis, in turn relieving the erectile dysfunction symptoms.
It is possible to become infected with chlamydia multiple times. Completing a full course of antibiotics will cure the infection, but it does not guarantee that you will not get infected again. Having chlamydia once does not make you immune to it, and you can catch the infection again if you are not careful and indulge in unprotected sex.
When to Seek Medical Help
If you experience any of the following symptoms, then you should see a doctor at the earliest to prevent any long-term complications:
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Problem keeping or getting an erection
- Burning sensation during urination
- Discharge from the tip of the penis
- Rash in the genitals
Only a doctor will be able to accurately diagnose and treat sexually transmitted bacterial infections such as chlamydia. If you are sexually active, then getting regular testing for chlamydia and other STDs is an important part of being healthy.
Chlamydia is a curable sexually transmitted infection, but if you leave it untreated, it can go on to cause many serious health complications. Erectile dysfunction due to chlamydia is also a treatable condition. Strictly following and completing the course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor will help you get rid of the infection and also relive the symptom of erectile dysfunction. If you doubt that you might have contracted an STD, then it is better to discuss your suspicions with a doctor rather than waiting for the infection to clear up by itself.
- Cdc.gov. (2020). CDC Grand Rounds: Chlamydia Prevention: Challenges and Strategies for Reducing Disease Burden and Sequelae. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6012a2.htm [Accessed 15 Feb. 2020].
- Weström, L., 1991. Pelvic inflammatory disease. JAMA, 266(18), pp.2612-2612.
- Weström, L., 1975. Effect of acute pelvic inflammatory disease on fertility. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 121(5), pp.707-713.
- Brunham, R.C., Binns, B., McDOWELL, J.A.C.K.I.E. and Paraskevas, M., 1986. Chlamydia trachomatis infection in women with ectopic pregnancy. Obstetrics and gynecology, 67(5), pp.722-726.
- Meares, J.E., 1991. Prostatitis. The Medical clinics of North America, 75(2), pp.405-424.
- Cdc.gov. (2020). STD Facts – Chlamydia. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia.htm [Accessed 15 Feb. 2020].
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