Background information on chlamydia
Of all sexually transmitted diseases in the US, chlamydia is recognized as the most common and widely spread. This infection is spread by exchanging bodily fluid through sexual contact from an infected person to an uninfected person. You can get chlamydia from all types of sexual contact, including vaginal, oral, and oral sex and sex involving toys.
Chlamydia doesn’t cause symptoms to occur in most cases of infection. Nevertheless, if left untreated, chlamydia can induce flare-up of symptoms that can cause permanent damage to the body. Can chlamydia cause infertility? Infertility can be one of the long-term effects of chlamydia, among others.
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Chlamydia affects men and women and is caused by a bacteria called chlamydia Trachomatis. This infection is widely spread because it typically shows no symptoms in most cases.
Like genital herpes and most common sexually transmitted infections, chlamydia is passed through sexual contact.
However, since it is passed through sexual activities, people can infect others with chlamydia without knowing they have it.
According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 40 to 96 percent of people with chlamydia show no symptoms. In addition, about 50% of men and 75% of women with chlamydia.
Can chlamydia cause infertility?
Chlamydia is a treatable infection that can be cured with the correct prescription of antibiotics. However, it can permanently damage a woman’s reproductive system and cause infertility if not diagnosed and treated early.
In women, chlamydia can expand to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or womb leading to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can cause severe problems to a woman’s reproductive system, like infertility or an ectopic pregnancy also called extrauterine pregnancy.
Untreated chlamydia can also cause a woman’s fallopian tubes to be blocked at their ends by spreading into the tubes. In addition, this infection can also cause scarring of the fallopian tubes, which hampers the tube’s ability to hold up the egg during ovulation. This also increases the risk of an extrauterine pregnancy.
Chlamydia can also cause male infertility by damaging the sperm and scarring the urethra.
The symptoms of chlamydia
Chlamydia can cause severe health complications if left untreated, even though it is usually asymptomatic. This means that the infection typically doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms most times.
However, there are instances where some symptoms occur several weeks after exposure. These symptoms can differ depending on the gender of the infected person. However, there are a few symptoms that apply to all genders.
Both genders may experience the following symptoms;
Eyes: These symptoms may include discharge, pain, and redness of the eyes. You may experience symptoms of conjunctivitis in addition.
Anus: You might also experience mucus-like discharge from your anus and pain, discomfort, and bleeding.
Throat: You may experience a sore throat if the bacteria is in your throat.
Symptoms in women
Yellow, white, or gray vagina discharge. This discharge can sometimes be smelly.
- Your urine has pus
- Painful and uncomfortable menstruation
- Pain during sex
- A burning sensation or pain during urination
- Unusual itching in and around your vagina
- An unusually increased urge to urinate frequently
- Bleeding in between your menstrual cycle
- Pelvic pain or pain in the lower part of your abdomen
Symptoms in men
- Mucus-like or watery discharge from the penis
- Burning sensation or pain during urination
Can chlamydia cause infertility: who is at risk?
Chlamydia is an infection that can cause infertility in both women and men. Anybody can get a chlamydial disease; however, it is more widely spread among sexually active young people. The CDC reports that 1 in 20 sexually active women from 14-24 years old has chlamydia, and two-thirds of new chlamydia cases are among young people aged 15-24. Therefore, regular screening is advised for sexually active young people. This is to ensure that treatment options can immediately be considered in cases where the infection is present.
Can infertility caused by chlamydia be reversed?
Untreated chlamydia can trigger a fallopian tube infection even without apparent symptoms. In addition, pelvic inflammatory disease, another symptom of untreated chlamydia, can cause irreversible damage to the uterus, womb, fallopian tubes, and tissues- leading to infertility.
While chlamydia is curable and treatable, the damage caused by its long-term effects can sometimes be permanent and irreversible by fertility treatments.
How long does chlamydia take to cause infertility?
A study suggests it can take a few weeks after exposure to chlamydia for PID to develop. There is no determined timeline on how long it may take to cause damage.
The CDC estimates that 10-15% of women infected with chlamydia will develop PID within a year. Ectopic or extrauterine pregnancy, tissue scarring, and fallopian tube damage are common effects of PID.
Some women may start noticing symptoms of PID after some weeks, and others can notice in months. However, PID is usually diagnosed when the patients begin seeing signs of the infection.
How to treat chlamydia
Doctors typically prescribe an antibiotic therapy to treat chlamydia. Antibiotics are usually effective in treating chlamydia in over 95% of people when used as the doctor recommends.
You should get started on antibiotics as advised by your doctor when your chlamydia is diagnosed.
Doxycycline and azithromycin are the two most commonly prescribed antibiotics for chlamydia.
- For doxycycline; take this drug every day for a week
- For azithromycin; take one dose of 1g, then 500mg once a day for 2 days
Ensure to inform your healthcare professional if you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or have allergies. Your healthcare provider may recommend substitute antibiotics like like erythromycin or amoxicillin.
You can experience some side effects when you use these drugs. Some patients can experience mild to severe side effects. Common mild side effects include feeling sick, diarrhea, stomach ache, and thrush in women.
Chlamydia and pregnancy
Untreated chlamydial infection in women can cause problems during pregnancy. These problems include premature membrane rupture, preterm labor, and low birth weight.
A newborn baby can also develop eye and lung infections as the infection can be passed from the mother during delivery.
There is no confirmed indication that chlamydia causes miscarriages. However, it can cause abdominal pain, abnormal discharge, or bleeding after sex.
Ectopic or extrauterine pregnancy due to chlamydia
Untreated chlamydial infection in women can cause severe complications like PID. In addition, PID puts a woman at more risk of developing an Ectopic or extrauterine pregnancy.
An Ectopic or extrauterine pregnancy develops when a fertilized egg implants and grows outside the main chamber of the uterus. The fertilized egg usually grows in the fallopian tube, which brings the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. This is called a tubal pregnancy.
Symptoms of an Ectopic or extrauterine pregnancy
Ectopic or extrauterine pregnancy symptoms usually start between the fourth and twelfth weeks of the pregnancy. Sometimes, some women don’t experience symptoms at first. These women may not be aware they have an ectopic pregnancy until more developed symptoms occur later.
Some of the common symptoms of an Ectopic or extrauterine pregnancy may include;
- Stomach upset and sickness
- Sharp abdominal pain or cramps
- Pelvic pain or light vaginal bleeding
- Body pain
- Weakness or dizziness
- Pain in the anus
- Shoulder or neck pain
How chlamydia is diagnosed
You can be diagnosed with chlamydia by a doctor or healthcare provider through three primary means. First, your doctor can take fluid samples from a woman’s cervix or a man’s urethra with a rolling stick or swab to the laboratory for screening.
A sample of your urine can also be tested for the presence of chlamydial trachomatis, likewise a blood sample.
Frequently Asked Questions
Chlamydia can indeed cause infertility in both men and women. However, it is not the only factor contributing to infertility in women. Several other environmental factors can play a role in this condition.
Factors like exposure to pesticides, radiation, and other chemicals as well as alcohol, smoking, marijuana use, anabolic steroids, cigarette smoking, antibacterial medications, depression, and high blood pressure can also adversely affect a woman’s fertility.
Age can also be another critical factor. The quality and quantity of a woman’s eggs reduce as she ages, thus making it difficult for her to get pregnant as she approaches menopause.
Chlamydia may not be directly life-threatening, but if not treated, it can cause some potentially fatal health complications. It can trigger complications like inflammation of the urethra, cervix, pelvis, fallopian tubes, uterus, or the lining of the uterus.