How chlamydia infection can cause erectile dysfunction

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that can affect the prostate and surrounding organs. It can also be linked to erectile dysfunction. This article explains how chlamydia can cause erectile dysfunction.

A man with hands grabbing his crotch

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common sexual problem. It is common among people with penises aged 40 years and above. It is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection during sexual intercourse.

Like some other sexually transmitted diseases, chlamydia can cause erectile dysfunction. Chlamydia infection can be transmitted via semen or vaginal fluid.

Some people with chlamydia may not show outward symptoms, especially in the early stage. However, it can cause health complications like inflammation of the epididymis and urethra later if left untreated.

In this article, we will look at chlamydia, how chlamydia can cause erectile dysfunction, and how to treat and prevent chlamydia. We will also point out other conditions that can cause ED.

While ED can put a strain in relationships, it often doesn't cause serious complications. You may want to read about treatments and home remedies for ED.

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis.

The bacteria, Chlamydia trachomatis spreads through unprotected oral, vaginal or anal sex. It can be transmitted through the vaginal fluid or seminal fluid of an infected person and sharing of sex toys with an infected person.

Another mode of transmission asides from sexual intercourse is the transmission from a mother to her unborn baby.

Chlamydia is easily spread because it is often asymptomatic (causes no symptoms) at the onset. This accounts for why it is one of the most sexually transmitted infections.

For people with penises who are symptomatic, after 1-3 weeks of getting infected with chlamydia, you might start noticing painful urination, burning and itching in your penis, swelling and pain around your testicles, and a small amount of clear discharge from the penis (mostly from the tip)

In people assigned male at birth, chlamydia can also cause sexual issues like erectile dysfunction.

How chlamydia can cause erectile dysfunction

Chlamydia can cause erectile dysfunction when the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria infects the prostrate (prostatitis), causing erectile issues.

The prostate is a gland, often small, that is found between the penis and bladder. Inflammation of this gland can cause pain. It can also cause inflammation of other reproductive organs near it including the epididymis and the penis. When this happens, it can become difficult to achieve or maintain an erection.

Some people with chlamydia also experience pain in their testicles which could make it difficult to have or enjoy sex.

How to treat chlamydia

Chlamydia can cause different health complications. However, it is treatable.

The most frequently used method of treatment for chlamydia is the use of antibiotics. There are different antibiotics that can be used to treat chlamydia, such as amoxicillin or erythromycin, azithromycin or doxycycline.

However, depending on the severity and the progression, your doctor will be in a better position to tell you the best form of treatment. You shouldn't start any treatment for chlamydia without consulting your doctor.

Once your test result is out, your doctor will direct you on the next course of action.

Some antibiotic treatments may present some side effects which vary with individuals. Some common side effects include diarrhoea, stomach ache, etc.

Also, while on treatment, it is best to avoid having sex because you are still exposed to the infection and can pass it on to someone else.

How to prevent chlamydia

Chlamydia can pose serious health complications, so it is best to prevent it in the first place. To reduce your chances of getting affected with chlamydia especially when you are sexually active, you can do the following:

  • Use protection like condoms and dental dams whenever you want to have sexual intercourse, especially if you have multiple sexual partners.
  • Get regular tests or screenings. Most chlamydia infections are always asymptomatic at the onset. This often makes it difficult to detect when you or your partner are infected. The only way to keep safe is to always have regular screening.
  • Reduce the number of sexual partners you have - it is best to stick with one. Having multiple sexual partners increases the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections.
  • Avoid sharing sex toys with friends.

Other conditions that can cause ED

There are multiple causes of erectile, some can be due to health while others can be psychological or emotional causes.

Some of the common causes of ED include:

  • Obesity
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Sleep disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Low testosterone
  • Enlarged prostate
  • Alcoholism
  • Stress
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • Mental health conditions

Diagnosis of chlamydia

Doctors often diagnose ED by carrying out some simple tests. Some of the tests used to check for chlamydia include urine tests and swab tests.

If your doctor requests a urine test, it means you will have to present a sample of your urine to the hospital's laboratory center where it will be tested for the presence of chlamydia.

For the swab test, your doctor will insert a slim swab into the tip of your penis. This will enable them to get a sample from the urethra. Alternatively, the swab can be obtained from the anus.

The preferred method of diagnosis will be best decided by your doctor.

When to see a doctor for ED or chlamydia

If at any point you find out that your partner or any of your sexual partners have chlamydia, you should pay a visit to your doctor.

Also, if you start to experience pain while urinating, you should not hesitate to see your doctor because they might be signs of chlamydia.

Since chlamydia can affect your sexual organs, you may start experiencing difficulty getting or sustaining an erection. In that case, you should also consult your healthcare provider. They will examine you, determine the cause of your erection issue and start treating it.

Wrap up

Chlamydia can cause erectile dysfunction when it affects sexual organs like the prostate and penis. This STI can easily be transmitted from one partner to the other because it often shows no symptoms at the early stages. However, it can be treated.

To prevent chlamydia infection, you should avoid having unprotected sex, avoid sex with multiple partners and practice other safety measures listed above.

Note that this article is solely information-based and is not intended as a treatment recommendation for chlamydia or ED. If you suspect you have chlamydia or ED, you should consult your doctor for appropriate treatment ideal for your situation.

References

  1. Mohseni M., et al, 2022). Chlamydia
  2. Rany Shamolu and Hussein Ghanem (2013). Erectile dysfunction
  3. Sooriyamoorthy T. and Leslie S.W. (2022). Erectile dysfunction.
  4. Worboys M. ( 2019) Chlamydia.