Chlamydia and Fertility
Chlamydia is the most commonly occurring sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. It is named after the bacteria Chlamydia Trachomatis. Both men and women can be infected by Chlamydia.
Very often there are no external symptoms of Chlamydia infection. If there are early symptoms, however, in men they may take the form of penile discharge or discomfort when urinating. Women might experience abnormal vaginal discharge, a burning sensation when urinating, or bleeding between periods or after intercourse.
If left undetected and untreated, Chlamydia can ultimately give rise to serious health problems, including infertility.
How Chlamydia Affects Fertility
When Chlamyida is untreated, one of the most serious repercussions for women is an infection in the upper reproductive tract. Known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), the infection spreads into the fallopian tubes which then become blocked. Swelling and scarring may also occur in the areas surrounding the uterus. Ultimately these problems can result in infertility and in an ectopic or tubal pregnancy.
During an ectopic or tubal pregnancy, fertilization takes place in the fallopian tubes instead of in the uterus, causing chronic pelvic pain and even possible death. Moreover, each episode of PID increases a woman's risk of becoming infertile.
How Chlamydia Affects Pregnant Women
If a woman with untreated Chlamydia becomes pregnant, the health of her baby is at risk. First, Chlamydia can cause pre-term birth, making the baby prone to a host of health complications. Second, Chlamydia infection during pregnancy is highly associated with infant eye infections and pneumonia.
How Chlamydia Affects Men
Chlamydia infections that are undetected and untreated in men can give rise to epididymitis - an infection in the ducts of the testicles where sperm mature. Epididymitis can manifest in shrinking of the infected testicle, abscesses, and infected sores in the surrounding scrotum area. As with women, Chlamydia in men can ultimately lead to infertility.
How to Detect Chlamydia
Chlamydia infection in men is diagnosed from a urethral swab. Chlamydia infection in women is diagnosed from a cervical swab and a urethral swab. Blood tests can also be performed that can detect antibodies made by the body when exposed to the Chlamydia infection.
Treatment for Chlamydia
The good news is that Chlamydia can be simply treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications, provided men and women get screened for the infection. Couples should abstain from sexual intercourse during this time. If left untreated, however, invasive surgery may be required. The Center for Disease Control recommends annual screening for STDS such as Chlamydia.