Normally, Chlamydia infection gets cleared easily with antibiotics. However, in situations where there are no symptoms or if the infection remains untreated, Chlamydia could rise to some serious health issues which varies between male and female.

Infertility; Ectopic pregnancy; Complication in pregnancy

Pelvic inflammatory disease or PID- When left untreated chlamydia infection get spread to women reproductive organs, such as womb, fallopian tube and ovaries resulting in the formation of Pelvic inflammatory disease. This is a serious issue which can ultimately get involved in-

  • Ectopic pregnancy risk, where the fertilized egg gets implanted outside the fallopian tube.
  • Infertility or difficulties in getting pregnant.
  • Blockage in fallopian tubes which block the end of the tubes producing a situation called as hydrosalpinx. As a result, scar tissue starts to develop surrounding the fallopian tubes. Thus, during ovulation when eggs are released it cannot enter the fallopian tube which is the main area of fertilization.

Pelvic inflammatory disease symptoms are quite overlapping with chlamydia infection symptoms.  Pelvic pain, bleeding in between menstrual period or at the time of sex, pain or discomforts at the time of urination are commonly seen in both. It has been found that 10%-40% of female individual with chlamydia infection will ultimately develop PID.  According to some studies, one in every five infertile individuals may originate from the Chlamydia infection. In such situations, the obstructions in distal fallopian tubes are mostly rectified by the laparoscopic surgical procedure.

 Anyone dealing with infertility, it is advisable to seek medical attention for chlamydia infection.

Complications in pregnancy- if the expected mother is infected,  there is a high chance that the infection will be passed to the newly born baby while passing through the birth canal.  As a result, the baby can have an infection in eyes like conjunctivitis or lung infection like pneumonia. Additionally, there will be a chance of premature delivery before 37th week or babies are born with lower birth weight.

How to treat Chlamydia in pregnancy?

Once the infection has been confirmed in pregnant women, treatment must be followed immediately. The clinician or health care providers are required to inform about the antibiotic effectiveness on individuals patient basis. Medicine such as Doxycycline is not recommended for the pregnant women when they are in advanced stage of pregnancy like second and third trimesters. According to the Centers for Disease control and prevention or CDC, for pregnant women medication in doctor’s clinic is a safe option for infection control. Research work including human data shows that in comparison to Doxycycline, ofloxacin and levofloxacin provides lower risk to the unborn baby. Although a high risk during breastfeeding still exists. Once the expected mother is undergoing the therapy treatment, it is advisable to retest within the following 3 to 4 months. Presence of Chlamydia also persists in advanced stages of pregnancy. Control of infection in the following months of pregnancy could provide a valuable tool to reduce the complication in newly born.

To avoid the presence of the bacterial pathogen Chlamydia, refrainment from sexual intimacy is advised and a long-term monologues relation with Chlamydia negative person also supports Chlamydia free pregnancy.

Think about the unborn child!!!

When a baby born prematurely or after a full gestation period is exposed to chlamydia, there is a high chance to develop the infection on the eye. Conjunctivitis is the most commonly seen outcome of maternal chlamydia infection. The symptoms related to Chlamydia infection mostly seen after 5 to 14 days post birth. Initially water like discharge starts, which follows eyelids swelling and thick conjunctiva. On the other hand, among new-borns with a maternal history of chlamydia infection, 5% to 30% will report developing pneumonia. In some cases, pneumonia develops together with conjunctivitis.  This kind of pneumonia takes place around 4th to 12th-week post birth and marked with a cough and congestion in the nose.

In addition, Chlamydia infection could also lead to stillbirth, although supporting information is limited. Presence of Chlamydia for a longer period could spread the infection to inner areas like endometrium resulting in miscarriage.

What about men?

Testicle inflammation- When left untreated, chlamydia may spread to the areas which can affect the male fertility like epididymis and testicles resulting in pain and inflammation. If not treated in time, this infection also results in male infertility.

Sexually acquired reactive arthritis or SARA- It can be seen within the first few weeks after the infection.  If left untreated, symptoms such as inflammation in the areas like eyes, urethra or joints start to develop.  Although SARA can also be seen in females, mostly male individuals are prone to it. At present there is no treatment option for SARA, however, drugs like ibuprofen can help to give relief.

Chlamydia and HIV

When a person has one sexually transmitted disease, at the same time presence of a second one can complicate the situation. During HIV infection, Human immunodeficiency virus makes the immune system very weak making it susceptible to another STD-related disease or infection. Thus a person who has already diagnosed with HIV, there is a high chance to becomes positive for Chlamydia infection.

Chlamydia and cancer

It has been observed that a female individual with a Chlamydia infection may have increased risk of developing cervical cancer. This observation was confirmed with the help of two cohort study where two control groups were used. As ovarian cancer normally diagnosed at later stages with very poor survival rate, a control of Chlamydia infection may help to reduce the chance of having ovarian cancer.