Chlamydia and Infertility
With nearly three million Americans infected every year, chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection. This infection can be transmitted through vaginal, anal and oral sex and can affect both men and women’s fertility. What is the cause of chlamydia, how can you protect yourself and what is the best treatment?
Cause and Symptoms of Chlamydia
Chlamydia is transferred through sexual contact. If you are aware that your partner has chlamydia you should refrain from sex. However, if you do have sex it is important to wear a condom. If you do come in contact with the infection you may experience several symptoms. In women, you might have vaginal discharge and burning sensation while urinating. In men, the symptoms also include burning while urinating and men may also have discharge from their penis, as well as pain and swelling in the testicles.
About 75% of infected women and men may not experience any symptoms of chlamydia. However, if they do appear you will notice them approximately one to three weeks after the infection is transmitted.
The good news is there is a cure for chlamydia. It is important that if you are diagnosed with the sexually transmitted infection, that you get treated immediately. Once your doctor prescribes the medication to treat the infection, it is important that you follow through with the treatment in order to prevent complications in the future.
If chlamydia is not treated it can lead to infertility. The infection can spread into the fallopian tubes causing them to become blocked. This infection can also cause scar tissue to develop around the fallopian tubes. This will make it harder for the tubes to carry the egg during ovulation. A doctor can determine if the fallopian tubes are blocked through a hysterosalpingogram.
Untreated chlamydia can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. This can cause long-term pelvic pain, the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy and the inability to get pregnant.
Reducing Your Risk of Chlamydia
Since chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, if you are sexually active you put yourself at risk for becoming infected. The best way to prevent chlamydia is through abstinence. If you are sexually active you should be aware if your partner has chlamydia. If he or she does, you want to abstain from sexual intercourse until treatment is complete.
Teenage girls who are sexually active are more likely to get this infection because their cervix has not been fully developed.
If you are sexually active you should also wear a condom and protect yourself from any infections. If you feel that you have come in contact with the sexually transmitted infection you should visit your doctor immediately.
Several tests can be done to detect chlamydia and tubal damage. For starters, chlamydia is detected through a urine test. However, the doctor may also take a swab from the cervix, vagina or anus to determine if a woman is infected with chlamydia. However, this test can not determine how long the infection is in the body or if it has caused any damage to the uterus or fallopian tubes.
A blood test can be performed to determine if a woman was exposed the chalydia bacteria. The presence of this bacteria can predict if there is tubal damage. However, it does not mean that the infection is active in the body.
With treatment you reduce your risk of having fertility problems in the future. However, having multiple chlamydia infections can increase the risk of infertility.
Untreated chlamydia does not usually affect men. The infection could cause pain in the penis and testicles. It can also cause fever, but it is very rare that this infection would affect a man’s fertility.
Protecting Yourself and Getting Tested
Chlamydia can affect sexually active men and women. It is also important to note that a mother can pass on chlamydia through childbirth. This could cause pneumonia in your newborn baby. It can also lead to a premature delivery of your child. If you are pregnant you should get tested for this sexually transmitted infection.
If you have been exposed to chlamydia or if you are sexually active with multiple partners and are unsure of their status you should speak with your doctor and get tested regularly. The doctor will be determine if you have the infection, as well as answer any questions you may have about chlamydia and its treatments.
It is also important to remember that you are not immune to this infection once it is treated. You want to protect yourself every time in order to prevent fertility problems in the future.