Does chlamydia go away on its own without treatment?

Sometimes, you can get better from an illness without medical treatment. This is because your immune system helps to fight off the infection. This may make you wonder if your immune system is capable of fighting off serious infections, such as Chlamydia. You may also want to know if Chlamydia can go away without treatment.

A man sitting on a chair in a hospital room with a doctor wearing a scrub about to give him an injection

Key takeaway

  • Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that can be contracted by anyone who is sexually active.
  • Chlamydia is a treatable sexually transmitted infection (STI), but if left untreated, it can cause serious complications. These complications include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, reactive arthritis, and preterm birth in pregnant women.
  • It is unlikely for chlamydia to go away on its own without proper treatment. However, it often clears up in 1-2 weeks after treatment. Also, you can be reinfected if you do not practice safe sex.

The world's most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection is Chlamydia. It is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. It occurs more frequently in young, sexually active adults. The World Health Organization estimates that every year, about 129 million people are infected with chlamydia globally.

Chlamydia is usually transmitted by having unprotected vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex with someone who is already infected. It can also be transmitted through the sharing of unsterilized sex toys and from a mother to her newborn during childbirth.

Chlamydia is one of the most treatable and curable STIs. It can cause erectile dysfunction and can contribute to infertility in males.

Can chlamydia go away on its own without treatment?

It is unlikely for chlamydia to go away on its own without treatment. The infection can last in the body for more than a year without treatment. Although the symptoms may subside temporarily or clear up completely, it is still possible to transmit them to other people.

It is important to get tested for chlamydia if you are sexually active and suspect that you or your partner are infected. Treat chlamydia as soon as you are diagnosed to get rid of the infection and prevent any complications.

Symptoms of chlamydia

Most times, chlamydia infection is asymptomatic, so many people can be infected without knowing. Even in cases where the symptoms occur, they may appear several weeks after a person has been infected.

The symptoms of chlamydia include:

  • pain when urinating
  • an abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina
  • bleeding during sex or bleeding between periods (for women)
  • Pain and swelling in one or both testicles

What treatment can make chlamydia go away?

Once your test result confirms that you have chlamydia, your doctor will prescribe oral antibiotics for you. These antibiotics, which are taken for a short period, can often effectively treat chlamydia.

The most common antibiotics used for treating chlamydia are:

  • Doxycycline – taken daily for a week
  • Azithromycin –  taken as a single dose.
  • Levofloxacin – taken for a week

If you are allergic to these antibiotics, are pregnant, or are breastfeeding, Your doctor may prescribe a different antibiotic, such as amoxicillin.

Does chlamydia treatment cure it?

About 95% of people with Chlamydia can be cured completely if they take medications as their doctors prescribe. The infection usually resolves within days or weeks, but any damage caused by the disease may not be reversed.

If your symptoms continue for more than a few days after treatment, your doctor may have to reevaluate them.

What happens when you don’t treat chlamydia?

Most genital infections will naturally clear up without causing health problems, but chlamydia, even without symptoms, can result in serious health problems if you leave it untreated.

Untreated chlamydia can result in:

1. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

Untreated chlamydia in women can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is an infection of the female reproductive organ. It can lead to:

  • Scarring in and outside the fallopian tubes (the tubes that transport eggs from the ovary to the womb). This can block the tube.
  • Infertility
  • Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that is outside the womb)
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain

2. Epididymitis

In men, untreated chlamydia can cause epididymitis, which is the inflammation of the epididymis (a tube behind the testicle that stores and carries sperm). The inflammation can cause pain and swelling of the testicle.

3. Reactive arthritis

Reactive arthritis is the inflammation of the joints, eyes, or urethra. The most common cause of sexually acquired reactive arthritis (SARA) is chlamydia. It usually develops within the first few weeks after being infected.

Acquired reactive arthritis has no cure, but most people get better in a few months.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can help relieve the symptoms.

4. Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome

Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome is an inflammation of the tissue lining the stomach, liver, and surrounding tissue. It is an indication of a severe pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

5. Increased risk of other STDs

Untreated chlamydia can also increase the chance of contracting other sexually transmitted diseases and infections, such as HIV.

6. Complications in pregnancy

Untreated chlamydia in pregnant people can result in preterm birth (giving birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and low birth weight. The newborns can get infected during delivery. This may result in pneumonia and conjunctivitis in the newborns.

How long does chlamydia last?

If you follow the course of treatment as prescribed by the doctor and abstain from sex until you complete your treatment, the chlamydia infection should clear within a week or two of completing treatment.

Can you get chlamydia more than once?

Yes, it is possible to get a chlamydia infection more than once in a lifetime. Just because you were once infected with chlamydia doesn't mean your body has developed immunity against the bacteria.  It is possible to get reinfected with chlamydia after you have been cured.

You are at high risk of re-infection if you or your partner:

  • Do not take or complete your medication as prescribed by your doctor
  • Have unprotected sex before you or your partner completes your treatment
  • You have multiple sex partners

So, it is important to protect yourself by:

  • Abstaining from sex until you and your sex partner(s) complete treatment - Wait for seven days after taking your medication If you took a single dose of antibiotics. And if you were given antibiotics to take for seven days, wait until you finish all the doses before having sex.
  • Ensuring that you and your partner get retested three months after treatment to confirm that you have been fully cured.
  • Always practice safe sex after treatment, even if you are cured.

Tips for preventing chlamydia

The only sure way to prevent chlamydia is to:

  • Abstain from sex or
  • Have only one sex partner who does not have chlamydia and only has sex with you.
  • Expectant mothers should be tested and treated for chlamydia if they are infected.

If you have multiple sex partners or your partner does, practice safer sex by:

  • Using condoms during vaginal, anal sex, and oral sex
  • Using dental dams during oral sex or vagina-to-vagina contact
  • Not sharing sex toys - If you must do so, sterilize them after every use and use a condom to cover toys used for penetration before using them.

Wrap up

Chlamydia is unlikely to go on its own without treatment. So, instead of waiting for it to develop into serious long-term health problems such as PID, which can result in infertility, visit your doctor for proper testing and diagnosis if you suspect or notice symptoms of chlamydia. 

You will recover and get back to normal if you take your medication as prescribed and practice safe sex to prevent reinfection.


  1. Pan American Health Organization. Chlamydia infection - PAHO/WHO | Pan American Health Organization
  2. National Health service, (2021). Chlamydia - Treatment - NHS
  3. Basit Hajira et al, (2023). Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome.
  4. Pan American Health Organization, (2019).  PAHO/WHO | Chlamydia: Frequently Asked Questions
  5. National Health Service, Wales (2022). NHS 111 Wales - Health A-Z : Chlamydia
  6. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). CDC – Chlamydia Treatment
  7. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Sexually Transmitted Infections Treatment Guidelines