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How long has my husband been infected with Chlamydia
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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How long has my husband been infected with Chlamydia

I have been in a monogamous relationship with my husband for over 8 years.  This past June, he experiened testicular pain and swelling. As we have been trying unsuccessfully to concieve (conceive) for the last 4 years, I was very worried.  After 3 days of pain, he went into emergency and came home with Cipro.  When I asked him what was wrong he responded that the Dr. told him "his wife must've given him somthing"  A week later, Community Health called (several times to follow up with him).  He didn't want to talk about it (he is very private) and finally told me that I gave him Chlamydia.  I did some research, and thought perhaps I have had the bacteria for years and had no symptoms, and maybe that is why I haven't been able to concieve (conceive) (although in Sept. I had a swab for Chlamydia, Gohnnorea and Syphillis (syphilis) as part of a fertiliy work up.. all resulting in negative).  I booked an appointment with my physician, had a swab last week, and recieved my results today --- Negative.  

Here is my question:  Can I assume my husband has been sexually active with another person within the last few years?  How long can he be without symptoms?  If symptoms present is that typically after recent exposure?  I haven't confronted him yet, as I want to know what possibilities exist first.  

Thanks for your response
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This is a frustrating situation and not all that uncommon.  I will try to help you sort it out.

One possibility is that your husband did not have chlamydia at all.  You don't say whether he actually had a positive test for chlamydia.  It is the most common cause of epididymitis in men under 35 years of age, so maybe they just assumed that was the cause and didn't test him.  Some epididymitis is caused by standard bacteria cause urinary tract infections, like E. coli.

If your husband had a positive chlamydia test, it could be mistaken. This depends partly on the kind of test that was done.  Some older types of tests can give false positive results.  However, the modern tests in most common use are very accurate, so this isn't a very likely explanation.

If he has chlamydia, then I am afraid the only likely explanation is that he caught it recently, either from you or another sex partner.  Assuming you have had no other sex partners recently, it is likely he has had sex with someone else.

Could you have carried chlamydia all these years?  Possibly, yes.  However, the longest time a woman has been known for sure to carry chlamydia is 4 years.  Most likely some women carry it longer than that, but 8 years probably is very unusual.  And if you had it, most likely your own test would have been positive.  (However, that also depends on the kind of test you had.  Please talk with your doctor to make sure that a modern test was used, and that a specimen was taken from your cervix, not a urine test.)  Also, if you weree infected all that time, most likely your husband would have been infected before now.

That you have been having fertility trouble conceivably could be related to chronic chlamydial infection.  But all things considered, I still doubt that you have been infected all these years.

Could your husband have carried chlamydia all these years without symptoms?  That is even more unlikely.  Men are not known to carry chlamydia without symptoms for such long times.  And the epididymitis suggests he was infected recently.

In summary, in most situations when one member of a couple has chlamydia and the other does not, the usual explanation is that one or the other partner has had other sex partners -- probably the explanation you fear most.  But as I said, there definitely are other possibilities.  You need to clarify exactly what types of tests were done on each of you.  And of course you're going to need to have a forthright but sensitive conversation with your husband.  Finally, make sure you get treated.  Even with your negative test result, if you and your husband have had sex in the past 2-3 months, you probably were exposed and need to be treated to be safe.

Even if the news isn't what you hoped to hear, I hope this helps you sort it out.  Best wishes--

HHH, MD
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