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Chlamydia infection and effect and fertility


Of all the sexually transmitted infections, (STIs), Chlamydia is believed to be the second commonest. Only Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has a higher prevalence. In the UK, approximately 10% of all sexually active young people under 25 are believed to be infected.


In the United States, Chlamydia infection has been reported since 1984. While in 1996 just under half a million cases were reported, nine years later in 2005, this had gone up by 98% to just over 970,000 recorded cases. It is also acknowledged that Chlamydia is the second most common STI in the US and that these figures may be conservative.


In Japan, a study carried out among high school students in Hokkaido in 2004 found 11.4% of them testing positive for Chlamydia. This was thought to reflect the state of prevalence of the infection among teens in the whole of Japan.


In some countries, there are established Chlamydia screening programs. Sweden has had such a program for over 25 years. A similar scheme (The National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP).  is in the process of being finalised for implementation in England.


Chlamydia infection symptoms

Probably the most challenging aspect of Chlamydia infection is that it tends to remain symptom-free in the majority of cases. This is why it is sometimes called the ‘silent infection’. The infection can, indeed, remain silent and undiscovered for years. Between 70 and 90% of infected individuals will have no symptoms. This is partly why, among the young sexually active age-group, this infection is passed on so easily.


When chlamydia infection is symptomatic, the features include

v      Vaginal discharge

v      Light bleeding after sexual intercourse

v      A burning sensation when passing urine

v      Pain during sexual intercourse

v      Light vaginal bleeding between periods

v      Lower abdominal pain or discomfort


Effects of Chlamydia infection

Chlamydia infection, especially when not detected early, can have devastating long term consequences especially with regard to fertility. The inflammation inside the fallopian tubes is known to cause such damage that the functional capability of the tubes is seriously compromised. This might result in permanent scarring of the tubes leading to an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and even complete inability to conceive naturally.

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