Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs may sometimes impact your fertility and chlamydia is one such STD that may sometimes affect male and female fertility! However, can chlamydia cause infertility problems and affect your chances of getting pregnant or the possibility of having a baby, well, read on the following post to know more about this condition, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and other associated aspects!s
What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs and this ailment can aptly be called a silent killer because it does not show any outward or evident symptoms. Chlamydia is caused by a bacterium known as Chlamydia Trachomatis. This bacteria may get transferred during unprotected sex without the use of condoms. People infected with the condition may not know for weeks, months or even years, that they are infected with the condition and may infect others too. This disease infects approximately 3 million people every year with the higher per cent found in the age group of 18 to 24 years of sexually active adults.
Causes of Chlamydia
Chlamydia transmits through the bodily fluids of an infected person through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. The bacterium enters the body through the cervix, urethra, rectum, or throat. Men who are infected can acquire and transmit the infection even without ejaculating.
Can Chlamydia Lead to Infertility in Men and Women?
Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia that are caused by pathogenic bacteria may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. Under such a condition, bacteria may enter the reproductive tract, fallopian tubes, or uterus, leading to inflammation and scarring. This, in turn, may lead to chronic pain, ectopic pregnancy, or also increase the chances of being infertile. If a woman is suffering from chlamydia, she is at a high risk of developing HIV too. However, chlamydia may not lead to such severe complications in men.
Symptoms of Chlamydia
The strangest fact is that there are not any evident signs and symptoms of this condition and this can be a cause of concern because you may have it and not even know about it. Approximately 70 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men suffering from chlamydia may not show any symptoms. However, those who experience may often mistake it for infection in the cervix or urethra. Here are some signs of this condition:
- Experiencing pain during sexual intercourse.
- Experiencing pain or a burning sensation while urinating.
- Abnormal or strong-smelling vaginal discharge.
- Experiencing pain in the lower belly.
- Watery or milky discharge from the penis.
- Experiencing bleeding between periods.
- Discharge, pain or even bleeding from the anus.
- Experiencing tenderness or swelling in the testicles.
Long Terms Effects of Chlamydia in Men and Women
Following are some long-term effects of this condition in men and women:
Here are some of the long-term effects of chlamydia on men:
- Chlamydia can lead to pelvic pain and infertility.
- It can cause epididymitis, a condition that is characterised by inflammation in the epididymis, which is a tube that carries the sperm.
Some of the long-term effects of chlamydia include the following:
- It can lead to ectopic pregnancy, a condition where the embryo develops outside inside of inside the womb.
- It can cause inflammation in the cervix, also known as cervicitis.
- It can cause pelvic inflammatory disease or PID.
- It can cause blockage in the Bartholin glands, which helps in lubricating the vagina.
Who is at a Higher Risk?
Well, it is established from the above section that chlamydia can have long effects on both women as well as men. However, this condition is more prevalent in younger women, who are under the age of 25 years. Also, women who are on oral contraceptive pills, coil, implants, or other such methods of contraception other than condoms, are at an increased risk.
It is very difficult to establish the symptoms of this disease, which means if you have it then you can easily spread it to the person you have sex with. The risk is highest in people with more than one sexual partner, incorrect or inconsistent use of condoms, or who have a history of any kind of sexual disease.
Also, in women who have a condition where the cervical cells are on the outside, also known as cervical ectropion, there is an increased risk of catching infections like chlamydia.
How Long Does it Take for Chlamydia to Cause Infertility in Males and Females?
Women who get infected with this condition may be affected with a PID or pelvic inflammatory disease (may happen in 10 to 40 percent cases). PID is a condition that can scar the fallopian tubes, ovaries, and womb of the infected woman and if the condition has been there for long then it may lead to scarring and blockage in the fallopian tubes. If such a condition occurs in men, then it may hamper the sperm to get to the egg. This means that if this condition develops in PID, it may lead to infertility.
Chlamydia may affect male fertility also a great deal by affecting the quality of the sperm and also by reducing the sperm count. This condition also increases the chances of infection in the tube that carries sperms, which is also known as epididymitis. This may lead to scarring in the male reproductive parts and, thus, leads to infertility. However, there are no definitive parameters to establish a chlamydia infertility timeline. In simple words, it is difficult to establish how long will it take for this condition to cause infertility is not clearly known. If you are wondering how to know if chlamydia has caused infertility, it mainly depends on the extent of infection and it helps in determining whether or not it may lead to infertility. Therefore, in order to be safe, it is better to treat it as soon as you establish any signs or symptoms of the disease.
Again, just because you have chlamydia for a really long time does not necessarily mean that you are infertile or if you are thinking that chlamydia can make you infertile forever, that may not be the case. This is because there are many men and women who have this condition but did not develop any severe complications.
Chlamydia shows very mild symptoms which may sometimes go neglected or associated with other STD infections, therefore, the best way to confirm whether or not you have this condition is by getting a lab test done. Usually, your doctor will advise you to get yourself tested if you are sexually active and are of 25 years age or younger, you are a pregnant woman (and tested positive during the first prenatal visit) or you fall in the high-risk category of men and women (those who have multiple sexual partners, have had STD before, etc.). The testing or screening for this condition is fairly simple. Your doctor will ask to get your urine tested to check for any infection. A swab test can be conducted for antigen or culture tests of chlamydia.
If your test results are positive and you will be treated for the same, your doctor may recommend a re-test after three months to establish whether there are any traces of the infection or not.
The treatment of this STD is very simple and a course of antibiotics can help treat the condition. Your doctor can prescribe a one-time dose or prescribe medicine that needs to be taken twice or thrice a day for a stipulated period of time. You will be advised against sexual intercourse during the course of treatment. Your sexual partner will also need to take medicines, even if they show no signs, or else the infection may keep transmitting back and forth.
The best way to keep this condition at bay is by practising safer sex and also by using condoms to reduce the chances of catching the infection. Make sure you get yourself regularly tested if you are sexually active.