How Long Does Chlamydia Last?

Getting a chlamydia diagnosis brings up many questions, including how long it will last. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection; without complications, antibiotics can usually treat it within a few weeks.

Over 1.5 million people in the United States had chlamydia in 2020, though numbers are likely higher as people who are asymptomatic (without symptoms) go undiagnosed. Without diagnosis and treatment, chlamydia could last for a long time and cause serious complications.

Getting tested as soon as you experience chlamydia symptoms is essential, especially if you engaged in unprotected sex or a sexual partner was diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Chlamydia screening is also recommended for all sexually active women under 25.

In this article, learn more about chlamydia, its symptoms, complications, and how long it lasts.

Healthcare provider holding chlamydia test and paperwork.

Rodolfo Parulan Jr. / Getty Images

What Is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a bacterial STI caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. It is the most common STI in the United States.

How Quickly Does Chlamydia Show Up?

Chlamydia symptoms may appear within one to three weeks of unprotected sexual activity with someone already infected. However, people are often asymptomatic, or symptoms may appear and go away on their own. You should continue to get tested because even without symptoms, your infection can still be active.


Chlamydia is sometimes called a "silent infection" because most people are without symptoms; it is estimated that only 5% to 30% of women and 10% of men develop symptoms. This is why regular screening is recommended.

Symptoms can vary based on the body part infected for those who are symptomatic.

Symptoms for people with vulvae (female genitalia):

  • Cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix)
  • Unusual vaginal discharge, sometimes with an odor
  • Painful sex
  • Pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Painful urination
  • Urinary frequency

Symptoms for people with penises:

  • Urethritis (inflammation of the urethra)
  • Watery or mucus discharge from the penis
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis)
  • One-sided testicle pain, tenderness, and/or swelling

Symptoms for throat infection:

  • Sore throat
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Redness in the mouth
  • Mild fever

Symptoms for rectal infections:

  • Proctitis (inflammation of the inner rectum)
  • Rectal pain
  • Discharge from the rectum
  • Rectal bleeding

How Long Does Chlamydia Last?

Once chlamydia is treated with antibiotics, the infection often resolves in one to three weeks. It is not recommended to have sex during the seven-day antibiotics course.

Without the proper antibiotic treatment, a person unaware they have chlamydia could have the infection for years, infect other sexual partners, and experience serious complications.

While antibiotics can cure chlamydia, they won't treat additional complications experienced from chlamydia; therefore, it is crucial to get tested.

How Is Chlamydia Spread?

Chlamydia is caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria and is transmitted through bodily secretions. It can spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

Can You Get Infected With Chlamydia Again?

Reinfection with chlamydia is pretty common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends retesting three months after chlamydia treatment to ensure the infection has resolved.

Complications If Left Untreated

Untreated chlamydia is not only dangerous because of the possibility of infecting others but can cause serious complications.

Some of these complications include:


Chlamydia is the most common STI in the United States. It is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, and can be cured with antibiotics. Once you begin antibiotic treatment, it can take one to three weeks for the chlamydia infection to resolve.

However, asymptomatic infected people could have chlamydia for years, which may cause other serious complications and spread the infection to others.

A Word From Verywell

The difficulty with treating chlamydia—and the reason that some people have the infection for years—is that most people don't experience symptoms. If you're sexually active, talk to your healthcare provider or visit a local sexual health clinic for regular testing.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do you have chlamydia for life?

    No. Chlamydia can be treated and cured with certain antibiotics. However, if a person goes undiagnosed for a long time, they may develop less easily treated complications.

  • How do you know when chlamydia is gone?

    Knowing when chlamydia is gone can be challenging because most people have no symptoms. The CDC recommends retesting about three months after treatment for chlamydia.

  • Does chlamydia have a smell?

    Most of the time, chlamydia does not have a smell. However, some people with vulvae may experience an unusual vaginal discharge with a strong odor.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually transmitted disease surveillance 2020.

  2. US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea: us preventive services task force recommendation statementJAMA. 2021;326(10):949-956. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.14081

  3. Kreisel KM, Weston EJ, St Cyr SB, et al. Estimates of the prevalence and incidence of chlamydia and gonorrhea among us men and women, 2018Sex Transm Dis. 2021;48(4):222-231. doi:10.1097/OLQ.0000000000001382

  4. National Health Service. Symptoms of chlamydia.

By Sarah Bence
Sarah Bence, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist and freelance writer. She specializes in a variety of health topics including mental health, dementia, celiac disease, and endometriosis.