Chlamydia is linked to infertility not only in North America but around the world.
Chlamydia is a disease that often doesn’t display any symptoms and therefore can go undetected for a long time, causing serious harm to the reproductive system in both women and men.
Chlamydia infections in young women are very common as there is still very little education about sexually transmitted infections for teenagers.
This lack of education, coupled with a lack of education about contraception, means that young women often get tested too late, and this can result in possible damage to the fallopian tubes.
For men, Chlamydia and infertility can be just as problematic. Studies show that men who have been diagnosed with Chlamydia have sperm that has some DNA damage.
Defining Chlamydia and Infertility
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease in North America and around the world. It occurs mostly among young adults and teenagers.
Chlamydia is a bacterial disease where the bacteria invade those cells that line the opening to the uterus. When left untreated, Chlamydia moves into the reproductive tract where it can cause problems with infertility as well as severe pelvic pain.
Women who become pregnant are also at high risk for an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy happens when the fertilized egg is implanted outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes because both of the tubes are blocked or scarred and can’t carry the egg to the womb.
Ectopic pregnancies will have to be terminated as there no chance of carrying to term outside of the uterus. Three of every four women who have Chlamydia will have little if any symptoms of the disease.
It’s because of this that Chlamydia is often diagnosed after there has already been serious damage done to the reproductive system and there are already infertility problems that have occurred.
Failure to Diagnose can Lead to Infertility
If Chlamydia is left untreated it’s possible that the infection will spread to a woman’s reproductive system including the fallopian tubes and the uterus.
This can cause mild to severe cases of PID, pelvic inflammatory disease, leading to infertility problems when a woman decides to conceive.
Like Chlamydia, PID develops slowly and with few symptoms, and if often diagnosed much too late.
This late diagnoses can cause scarring or block to the fallopian tubes which in turn can cause not only infertility issues but other problems such as miscarriage and premature birth.
It’s highly recommended that young women under the age of 25 who are sexually active are screened once a year for Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases.
If Chlamydia symptoms are going to show up they’ll become apparent in the first few weeks of being exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms of Chlamydia in women can include the following:
- Pain in the lower abdomen.
- Pain or discomfort urinating.
- Vaginal discharge.
- Urine that is cloudy.
- Genital itching.
- Bleeding between menstrual periods or after intercourse.
For women who are having problems conceiving it’s imperative they talk to their doctor to determine if they have a current Chlamydia infection or have had one in the past.
Ideally, the best way to treat Chlamydia, and prevent any infertility problems is to treat the bacterial infection as soon as possible with antibiotics.
Chlamydia During Pregnancy
Some women will become pregnant while they have Chlamydia and this can lead to problems for the baby. Chlamydia is transmitted to the baby after being exposed to the bacteria during birth.
As part of routine testing during prenatal care, most women will be diagnosed with Chlamydia before their baby is born, allowing doctors to know ahead of time what to expect when it comes time for a child.
Babies with Chlamydia are often born prematurely. They often have breathing problems and conjunctivitis of the eye. Being born with Chlamydia infection can also lead to pneumonia.
Babies with Chlamydia will be immediately put on antibiotic treatment for about 14 to 20 days.
Infertility and Blocked Fallopian Tubes
Women, who have had complications from Chlamydia and PID, such as blocked or scarred fallopian tubes, may have to address this issue before they are able to conceive.
Blocked fallopian tubes can be confirmed by doing a laparoscopy. A laparoscopy allows doctors to take a close look at the fallopian tubes to determine just how blocked and scarred they are and whether or not surgery will be needed to open them back up enough to allow for conception.
Tubal surgery is used to open up fallopian tubes that are completely closed and is also used to break down adhesions of scar tissue that are causing the blockage.
In cases where the fallopian tubes have damage that is too severe, couples may have to consider alternative options for infertility treatment such as in vitro fertilization.
With such a clear link between Chlamydia and infertility, it’s imperative that women are regularly tested for Chlamydia both before and after pregnancy.