Chlamydia and the Reproductive Health
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases adversely affecting the human population of the world today. In the United States alone Chlamydia infection was estimated at 1,598,354 cases, as reported to CDC in 2016 from 50 states and the District of Columbia. 2.86 million Chlamydia infections were estimated to occur annually worldwide, despite a large number of cases not reported. Attributed to the asymptomatic nature of people with Chlamydia infections who see no reason to submit themselves to STD testing and screenings.
Chlamydia infections are most common among young people (average age is 25years old) whose immune responses are still healthy. With almost two-thirds of new chlamydia infections occurring among 15-24 years old.
Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia Trachomatis. Long-term untreated Chlamydia infection carries with it the potential risks of arthritis, blindness, and infertility.
Chlamydia and Infertility in Women
Sexually transmitted infections (STI's) in addition to obesity and age, rank among the most common and prevalent causes of infertility in women, as well as in men. Chlamydia is not only transmitted through vaginal sex but also through anal or oral sex.
Commonly referred to as the “silent epidemic”. An almost invisible source of unwarranted risks to women’s reproductive health, owing to its asymptomatic nature in the majority of cases. CDC is realistic in boosting the importance of STD testing and screenings. They are advocating for any sexually active female under the age of 25, to get tested. Especially those who constantly change or engage with multiple sex partners. For CDC, getting regular STD screenings or testing is the best-known way to prevent sexually transmitted infections from spreading. Next to safe sex (using a condom) of course, allowing for the inability of young people to abstain from impulsive sex.
As one of the most common STIs that cause infertility in young women, Chlamydia in women affects the health of the cervix, also known as the neck of the womb. Subsequently, when their lack of education on the risks of STI's and contraception, make these young women postpone or get tested too late for STDs, they are further putting their fallopian tubes in greater risks of damage. With half of them eventually developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
4 Signs of Chlamydia Infections:
- Lower abdominal pain and tenderness
- Vaginal discharge that is yellowish or greenish
- Fever with bouts of nausea and/or vomiting
- Frequent painful urination
Infertility Risk Factors in Men
Not only does Chlamydia carry with it a great potential of infertility risks in women, it is also one of the most common causes of infertility in men. A chlamydia infection of the urethra can spread to the testicles. Although rare, this is known to happen, and the condition is known as Epididymitis. When not caught early, by getting tested for STD upon the onset of noticeable Chlamydia symptoms, and if left untreated for a long time, Epididymitis may cause men to become sterile.
Chlamydia and Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency condition, characterized by the implantation and development of fetus outside the womb, typically, in the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancies are becoming common pregnancy issues for many women today, and the number of incidences is increasing worldwide. Recent studies propose a connection between Chlamydia in women and ectopic pregnancies. Chlamydia activated injuries, inflammation, and scarring within the fallopian tubes are pointed to by evidence to cause fertilized eggs (fetus) to lodge within the fallopian tube. Some evidence also points to the epithelial cells which line the interior walls of the tubes as an additional cause. As Chlamydia infection-causing bacterium target Epithelial cells as primary targets, these cells are also regarded as a different probable cause of ectopic pregnancy.
Physical and visible indicators of ectopic pregnancy:
- Amenorrhea - a sudden cessation of menstrual periods
- Persistent or intermittent lower to middle abdominal pain
- Vaginal bleeding (spotting or any unusual bleeding deviating from your normal menstrual cycle)
Although ectopic pregnancies are rare, occurring only between 1% and 2% of total pregnancies within a given period. It should be noted that in 50% of previous ectopic pregnancies, the women showed no visible physical symptoms. Only a combination of a pelvic ultrasound and hormone blood test can diagnose ectopic pregnancies.
Terminated ectopic pregnancies may cause a woman to lose some parts of her reproductive system. One or more organs that are integral to her ability to get pregnant. Losing one or more of these important organs may also cause a woman to become sterile or incapable of procreation (getting pregnant and giving birth to children). The primary purpose of the reproductive system, which we need to keep healthy by fending off infections.