Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause long-term health problems. Many people with chlamydia have no symptoms and are unaware that they have the infection.
If it goes untreated, chlamydia can lead to:
- chronic prostatitis in men, causing pain and erectile dysfunction (ED)
- an increased risk of getting HIV
- permanent infertility in women and a painful condition called pelvic inflammatory disease
In this article, we explore the link between chlamydia and ED. We also describe when to get tested, how chlamydia is treated, and which other conditions can cause ED.
Does chlamydia cause ED?
Chlamydia can infect the prostate, causing a complication called prostatitis, which can lead to ED.
If chlamydia enters the genital tract, it can spread to nearby organs. In males, chlamydia bacteria can infect the urethra, which is the tube that carries sperm out of the body. Over time, the bacteria can travel through the urethra to the prostate gland.
If the prostate becomes infected and inflamed, it may restrict the flow of blood to the penis, which can make getting or keeping an erection difficult.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States report that chlamydia can spread to a sexual partner, even when a male does not ejaculate during the encounter.
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for getting chlamydia. The CDC estimate that 2.6 million cases of infection occur each year in the U.S.
Practicing safe sex can prevent chlamydia and its complications. A person can do this by:
- using condoms or dental dams correctly every time they have sex
- only having sex with people who have been tested and treated for any STIs
- abstaining from vaginal, oral, and anal sex
Physical, psychological, and emotional factors can contribute to ED. Just a handful of the many health conditions that can cause it include:
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
- kidney problems
Stress and certain medications can also cause ED, as can STI-related anxiety and discomfort.
In addition, authors of a study from 2011 found that men aged 40–59 with HIV had significantly higher rates of ED.
When to see a doctor
A person with any of the following symptoms should seek medical advice:
- problems getting or keeping an erection
- burning during urination
- pain during sex
- discharge from the penis
- a rash in the genitals
Only a healthcare professional can properly diagnose and treat STIs. For people who are sexually active, regular testing for chlamydia is an important part of staying healthy.
Family doctors and some medical clinics offer STI testing. While untreated chlamydia can cause a number of health complications, the condition is curable.
Regular medical checkups and STI testing can help to prevent and treat ED and other problems resulting from chlamydia.
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