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On average, how long does someone need to have untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea for, before it develops into PID or leads to infertility?

Hi, thanks for writing.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of a woman’s reproductive organs, including the uterus (womb), fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It happens when bacteria travel up from the vagina into the reproductive organs. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are sexually transmitted bacterial infections that commonly cause PID.

While it’s possible for the body to clear Chlamydia or Gonorrhea on its own (without medication) there is a risk of developing PID whenever an STI is not treated. The length of time an STI has to go untreated before developing into PID is different from person to person. Some people may develop signs and symptoms of PID after a few weeks, and for others in can take months.

PID is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms a person is feeling (not how long their STI has been untreated).

The most common symptoms of PID are:

• Pain in the lower abdomen, usually on both sides. The pain may be crampy or a dull constant ache;
• Pain during sex;
• Fever and/or chills;
• Abnormal fluid from the vagina (discharge);
• Abnormal vaginal bleeding (or spotting between periods);
• Needing to pee more often than normal;
• Pain with bowel movements or urination;
• Nausea and/or vomiting;
• Lower back pain.

If you think you have an untreated STI, or are experiencing any of the above symptoms, we would recommend going to consult a healthcare professional. Because PID can damage the reproductive organs (and potentially cause infertility) it’s important to seek healthcare soon.

You can to go your regular family doctor, a walk-in clinic, or an STI clinic for these concerns. If you need help finding an STI clinic in your area check-out our Clinic Finder tool.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to ask another question if needed.

Health Nurse

This answer was posted on May 2, 2017

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