Can Gonorrhea and Chlamydia Cause Infertility?

Can Gonorrhea and Chlamydia Cause Infertility?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This infection comes about through sexual contact with an infected person.

This includes oral, anal and vaginal sex. A good number of victims may not show any signs or symptoms of the disease. In men, the condition manifests itself as a burning sensation with urination, discharge from the penis, or testicular pain. Females also reported a burning sensation when urinating, vaginal discharge, vaginal bleeding between periods, or pelvic pain.

Chlamydia closely resembles Gonorrhea, in terms of causative agent and means of infection. Also known as Chlamydia infection, the disease is sexually transmitted by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. The symptoms of the disease in women include vaginal discharge or burning with urination. For the men, common signs are discharge from the penis, burning with urination, or pain and swelling of one or both testicles.

Gonorrhea and Chlamydia rank high on the list of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. For the former, estimates show that 33 to 106 million new cases each year while Chlamydia affects roughly about 60 million people annually. Both diseases are curable if detected on time and treatment commences immediately.

Complications arising from non-treatment for both diseases

As stated in the preceding paragraph, both conditions are treatable. However, because a good number of people do not show any signs of having either gonorrhea or chlamydia, there is the possibility of complications arising in victims. In fact, in the case of Chlamydia, it is estimated that the disease causes no symptoms in 90 percent of males and 70 percent to 95 percent of females. Hence, Chlamydia is often referred to as the “silent” disease.

Complications in Females

Studies show that women are at greater risk of long-term complications from untreated, sexually transmitted infections. Untreated infection with gonorrhea in women may ascend up the female reproductive tract and involve the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. At this stage of the infection, a condition called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID); the victim experiences severe and chronic pain and damage in the female reproductive organs. There is also the possibility of developing a blockage or scarring of the fallopian tubes, which can prevent future pregnancy or cause Ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg takes root outside the uterus.

These above possibilities hold true for patients with chlamydia. There is scarring in the fallopian tubes, which impinges on the ability of the woman to bear a child. Other serious outcomes include extensive damage done to the uterus, cervix, and ovaries.

Complications in Males

The consequences are just as dire in men. In the case of Chlamydia left untreated, sufferers may experience extensive inflammation of the epididymis. The epididymis is the tube that holds the testicles in place. The result of this inflammation is chronic pain and discomfort. The infection could also spread to the prostate gland, causing inflammation and pain.

With advanced gonorrhea infection, males may experience a scarring of the urethra. There is also the possibility of the development of an abscess in the interior of the penis. The final outcome is usually reduced fertility or total sterility.


Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are treatable infections. The key is to detect the infections in good time and seek appropriate treatment regimens. However, if these diseases are left to fester, the probable outcomes include damage to the reproductive organs and eventual infertility in both women and men.

Mark Riegel, MD

Latest Stories

Here’s what we've been up to recently.

Concerned about an STD?

Help stop the spread of STDs by knowing your status. Get tested today!