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Can Chlamydia Affect Your Fertility And Pregnancy?

Can Chlamydia Affect Your Fertility And Pregnancy?

Simply put, yes, chlamydia complications can affect fertility and even pregnancy. In the run-up to Sexual Health Awareness Week we sat down with Dr Alex Eskander, director of London’s leading gynaecology clinic The Gynae Centre, to learn more.

‘I could count the number of sexual partners I’ve had on one hand and I’ve never had any symptoms.’

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you’re exempt from STIs and especially not chlamydia. In fact chlamydia is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK1.

What Is Chlamydia?

It is a bacterial infection generally contracted through sex or coming into contact with infected genital secretions (vaginal fluid or semen). It is usually caught through the genitals but can also be contracted through the mouth, anus and eyes.

What Are The Symptoms Of Chlamydia?

Dr Eskander“Chlamydia can go under the radar for a long time,” Dr Eskander told us. “In fact around 70% of women and 50% of men2 with chlamydia won’t experience any obvious signs.”

If you do notice any symptoms, they might include:

  • Periods that are heavier than usual
  • Abnormal vaginal or rectal (back passage) discharge
  • Pain around your abdomen
  • Bleeding outside of your time of menstruation
  • Bleeding during or following sex
  • Pain when passing urine

Can Chlamydia Affect Your Fertility And Pregnancy?

How Can Chlamydia Cause Infertility Or Pregnancy Problems?

If left untreated, chlamydia can spread to the ovaries, uterus, or fallopian tubes, and lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

PID can induce:

  • Infertility
  • A higher chance of ectopic pregnancy (when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the uterus)
  • Recurring pelvic pain

“Usually, PID is treated with a course of antibiotics,” Dr Eskander told us. “If you receive treatment early on, you are less likely to experience fertility and pregnancy problems, so it really is crucial to seek medical advice right away if you notice any symptoms.”

PID symptoms tend to be similar to chlamydia indicators, such as pain when passing urine, bleeding following sex and in between periods, and discomfort during intercourse.

Untreated chlamydia can also lead to other pregnancy-related problems including increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth and before this miscarriage even infertility due to failure of implantation in an inflammatory environment.

We can help you find some of the UK’s best Private Consultant Gynaecologists and Private Gynaecology Clinics and Hospitals near you.

How Is Chlamydia Diagnosed And Treated?

Chlamydia testing is simple and painless, either via urine test or swab of the affected area. The Gynae Centre can conduct chlamydia screening in conjunction with other sexual health tests too.

Chlamydia is treated with a single dose of oral antibiotics which is generally safe for pregnant women. There is no need to be tested again after this.

Can I Receive Treatment For Chlamydia While I’m Pregnant?

Yes, via oral antibiotics as above.

Can Chlamydia Affect My Baby?

Yes. If you have untreated chlamydia in pregnancy, there is a possibility the infection could be passed on to your baby during the birth3. If that occurs, your baby could develop an infection in their eye (conjunctivitis) or a lung infection (pneumonia).

If you are seeing signs of either of these problems, tell your midwife or doctor, who can organise a test for chlamydia. The infection can be treated with antibiotics.

Given that chlamydia so often appears without symptoms, and given its serious potential complications if left untreated, the rule of thumb is: if you haven’t been tested for chlamydia, get a screening – it’s just that simple.

REFERENCES

[1] http://www.fpa.org.uk/factsheets/sexually-transmitted-infections
[2] http://www.fpa.org.uk/factsheets/sexually-transmitted-infections
[3] http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/chlamydia-during-pregnancy/

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