20 de May, 2023

Positive Chlamydia: What to Do

On the journey to motherhood, every step counts. Every hope, every dream, and every challenge drives us toward a future where our desires to conceive become a reality. However, we often encounter unexpected obstacles on this journey, such as chlamydia, a silent infection that can affect our fertility.

It is essential that we fully understand how chlamydia can intertwine with our dreams of motherhood and how we can courageously confront it.

Chlamydia, often associated with stigma and shame, can impact our ability to conceive. However, we must focus on our strengths and take steps to overcome the challenges.

We will explore how we can take control of our sexual and reproductive health and how the available treatment options can pave the way to our cherished goal: becoming mothers.

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, yet one of the least known.

It is caused by the intracellular bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, and it is three times more common in women than in men. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year 2.8 million people are infected with chlamydia in the United States alone.

In 40% of untreated cases, chlamydia infects the cells of the cervical neck and spreads to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or uterus, causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or blocking the fallopian tubes.

It can affect fertility in various ways:

  • By infecting the cervical neck, it can prevent sperm from reaching the uterine cavity.
  • By infecting the ovaries, it can cause disruptions in ovulation, decrease the number of eggs, and lead to an ovarian infection or abscess.
  • By infecting the fallopian tubes, it can cause hydrosalpinx, which is the blockage of one or both tubes. This prevents sperm from meeting the egg and fertilizing it. It also hinders the transportation of the fertilized egg from the ovary to the uterus, increasing the risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • When it reaches the inside of the uterus, it can result in insufficient development or inflammation of the endometrium (endometritis) and hinder the proper implantation of the embryo.
  • It can induce inflammatory reactions that lead to the formation of pelvic adhesions at the level of the uterine tubes, which interfere with the transport of gametes (eggs and sperm).
  • Due to the potential for pain during or after sexual intercourse, many couples are forced to avoid sex during the woman's most fertile period, which obviously impedes conception.

Additionally, untreated chlamydia can lead to serious consequences during pregnancy, such as:

  • Increased risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Infection of the amniotic fluid
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight in newborns
  • Newborns infected with pneumonia or conjunctivitis during vaginal delivery

Main Symptoms of Chlamydia

Chlamydia is known as a silent disease because 75 percent of infected women do not experience symptoms. In the remaining cases, symptoms may appear between one to three weeks after infection and include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Irritation
  • Burning during urination
  • Bleeding between periods
  • Dyspareunia or pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pelvic pain
  • Fever
  • Infertility

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should abstain from sexual intercourse and consult a specialist immediately. Early diagnosis of chlamydia can prevent pelvic inflammatory disease and subsequent damage to the reproductive organs.

Causes of Chlamydia

Chlamydia can be transmitted during unprotected vaginal or anal sex, and it can even be found in the throat of individuals who have engaged in oral sex with an infected partner.

Anyone who is sexually active can become infected with chlamydia. However, the risk of infection is proportional to the number of sexual partners one has had or currently has.

It is important to note that chlamydia can also be transmitted from mother to child during vaginal delivery, so it is important for infected women who have not been treated to undergo a cesarean section.

How is Chlamydia diagnosed?

In addition to reviewing your medical history and a brief, painless vaginal examination, your doctor will need to take a cellular sample from your vagina or cervix using a swab. This sample will be sent to a laboratory where it will be analyzed for infected DNA.

Blood or urine tests may also be helpful in detecting antibodies that the body produces when exposed to the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all sexually active individuals under 25 years old and those over 25 years old should undergo annual chlamydia screening.

Furthermore, the presence of this bacteria should be ruled out in all pregnant women.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea often occur together, so if you have chlamydia, it is advisable to get tested for gonorrhea as well.

Similarly, women with advanced chlamydia should undergo a gynecological vaginal ultrasound, during which a probe is inserted into the vagina to determine the damage that this infection may have caused to their reproductive organs.

I want to have a baby and tested positive for chlamydia.

Individuals who test positive for chlamydia should abstain from sexual intercourse until they and their sexual partners have been treated. Otherwise, they are at a high risk of reinfection and experiencing serious complications in their reproductive health. To ensure that the treatment has been effective, a follow-up test is recommended.

In cases where reproductive organs are damaged (particularly the fallopian tubes), In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is the preferred procedure for achieving pregnancy. This is because the damage caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria often affects the transport of gametes and hinders the transfer of the fertilized egg to the uterus. 

It is important to treat the chlamydia infection before starting an IVF cycle, as it can have adverse effects on the success rates of the procedure.

Do not hesitate to reach out to experts for guidance!

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