Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Chlamydia – without treatment it can cause infertility

There is alot being said in the media about Chlamydia and its affect on fertility at the moment with good cause. With up to one in ten sexually active young people having Chlamydia in the UK, it's a real problem facing couples trying to have a baby.

'A study published in 2004 involving Swedish couples seeking infertility treatment found that men with chlamydia infection were less likley to father a child. But researchers have lacked good evidence about why men with the disease develop fertility trouble and how to reverse the problem'

'Men with chlamydia have more than three times the normal level of DNA fragmentation in their sperm, report researchers.' taken from new scientist article

What is it?

is one of the most commonly sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It's a bacterial infection, which is found in semen and vaginal fluids.


You can buy tests from most chemists, but it is a good idea to see your doctor and to ask to be tested for Chlamydia if you or your partner is experiencing problems getting pregnant. Alternatively, you can visit your local hospital GUM clinic where you can receive a full health screen for free to see if you have any infections that might be affect your fertility. A further list of potential causes of infertility can be found here.

To find your nearest Hospital GUM clinic. Please note that both partners need to be tested as it is easily transmissible.

What's the treatment?

As it is a bacterial infection, it means that it can be easily treated by antibiotics and this is a highly effective way of dealing with this infection. However, as antibiotics can also kill friendly gut bacteria it is always a good idea to take a course of Probiotics (friendly gut bacteria) after your course of antibiotics. Please note, that if both couples are infected and are giving a course of antibiotics, they should refrain from sexual intercourse until the course of antibiotics is completed.

What are the symptoms?

As Chlamydia sometimes has no symptoms, in both men and women, it can often go undiagnosed, unless it leads to complications. Some women may have 'non-specific symptoms' such as:

  • Cystitis
  • A change in their vaginal discharge
  • Mild lower abdominal pain
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding between periods or during or after sex
  • Pain with sex or when passing urine; and Lower abdominal pain

However, when complications arise it can lead to infertility. In women, Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease. This can lead to:

  • Miscarriage;
  • Ectopic pregnancy (when a pregnancy develops outside the womb, usually in the fallopian tube);
  • Blocked fallopian tubes (the tubes that carry the egg from ovary to womb); and
    Long-term pelvic pain

Chlamydia can also be passed from a mother to her baby during childbirth. Although no obvious symptoms are immediately apparent, the infection will often develop two weeks after birth, and can result in complications such as pneumonia.

Men might notice:

  • White/cloudy, watery discharge from the tip of the penis
  • Pain when passing urine or painful testicles

Chlamydia can also cause fertility problems in men, approximately half of all men with symptoms have impaired fertility, such as epididymitis.