Chlamydia might be the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted disease in America, but many people are unaware of the harmful effect it can have on their fertility. Let's start with the basics.
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that is spread through oral, vaginal, or anal intercourse. It is estimated that 1 in 20 sexually active young women between the ages of 14 to 25 has chlamydia. When left untreated in women, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, tubal factor infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain.
Chlamydia can also be passed on to the baby if a pregnant woman is infected.
Here's the problem: there are very few symptoms of chlamydia. Many people are unaware when they have contracted chlamydia. Studies have found that only a small percentage of people infected with chlamydia show symptoms. Women that do have symptoms experience burning during urination and abnormal vaginal discharge.
This means it is extremely important to get regular screenings. The Center for Disease Control recommends that all sexually active women under the age of 25 should receive yearly chlamydia screenings. Older women with risk factors such as multiple partners should also be regular tested. Pregnant women should also be screened for chlamydia during their first prenatal care visit.
The CDC does not recommend routine screening for men, but men who have sex with men (MSM) are at a higher risk for rectal infection from chlamydia if they engage in receptive anal sex.
If chlamydia in women is left untreated, the infection can spread to the fallopian tubes, causing the tubes to become blocked at the ends. This also leads to the development of scar tissue around the fallopian tubes, making it harder for the tube to pick up the egg at the time of ovulation. These problems can lead to infertility in women.
Thankfully, chlamydia is very treatable when detected. Antibiotics can cure chlamydia if taken as directed. Couples should abstain from sexual intercourse until the treatment is complete and both partners should be tested if one person is found to be infected.
If you are regularly screened, you will be able to prevent this infection from having any effect on your fertility. When it comes to your reproductive health, knowledge is power. By staying educated on STIs, you are already ahead of the curve.