If chlamydia is left untreated, it can cause serious fertility and pregnancy complications. The infection can be passed on to your baby and cause potentially damaging short- and long-term health consequences for them.
This is why it’s very important to get yourself tested if you think you could be at risk, even if you don’t notice any symptoms and haven’t been tested recently. Chlamydia can usually be treated easily if it’s diagnosed as soon as possible.
Our doctors are here to help you get the treatment you need quickly and without any fuss.
How can chlamydia affect your chances of getting pregnant?
Pelvic inflammatory disorder
If it’s left untreated, chlamydia can result in a condition known as pelvic inflammatory disorder (PID). This causes scarring and/or narrowing of the fallopian tubes, which can make it difficult to conceive.
It’s estimated that around 10% of PID cases will result in infertility.
Symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease
The symptoms of PID include:
- Severe pelvic pain
- Discomfort during or after sex
- A burning sensation when you urinate
- Bleeding during or after sex
- Bleeding outside your normal menstrual cycle.
You might have noticed that many of these are similar to the symptoms of chlamydia. If you notice any of them, it’s vital that you see a doctor as soon as possible.
If you have pelvic inflammatory disease, this increases your risk of an ectopic pregnancy.
This occurs when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb - often within the fallopian tubes. When this happens, it isn’t possible for the egg to develop and the pregnancy will be lost. You may need surgery to remove the tube and possibly even the ovary.
Symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy
Not all ectopic pregnancies cause symptoms. However, when they do, you’ll usually notice a problem between four and 12 weeks after the egg has implanted itself. Symptoms to watch out for include:
- The usual signs of pregnancy, such as a missed period
- Pain in one half of your stomach
- Pain or discomfort when going to the toilet
- Vaginal bleeding
- Discharge from your vagina
- Shoulder pain
- Pain during intercourse, particularly if it’s only felt on one side.
It’s very important that an ectopic pregnancy is treated straight away. If it’s not treated, in some cases it can result in a ruptured fallopian tube, which will require emergency surgery.
Fertility issues in men
Chlamydia can also cause fertility problems for men.
If left untreated over a long period of time, it can affect sperm production and cause scarring of the reproductive tract, lowering your chances of having a baby.
How can chlamydia affect your baby?
If you have chlamydia during your pregnancy, the infection can be passed on to your baby. This can cause a number of health complications, including conjunctivitis or pneumonia, which will require immediate treatment when the baby is born.
There is an increased risk that your baby will be born prematurely (before 37 weeks) or with a low birth weight (under 5.5lbs). Premature babies are more likely to have breathing difficulties, low blood sugar, low body temperature and difficulty feeding. They’re also more likely to pick up an infection.
Long-term, babies born with a low birth weight have a greater possibility of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes in later life.
In the most serious cases, leaving chlamydia untreated can result in miscarriage and stillbirth.
If you’re planning to get pregnant, or you think you might have picked up the infection during your pregnancy, it’s vital that you see a doctor as soon as possible.
Chlamydia treatment during pregnancy
Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. During your consultation, it’s very important that you tell the doctor if you’re pregnant, so that they can prescribe antibiotics that are safe and won’t harm your developing baby.
It’s not advisable to try for a baby while you’re being treated for chlamydia. However, if you get pregnant while you’re already taking medication for chlamydia, you should see a doctor straight away to find out whether you need to switch to different antibiotics.
With the correct treatment, the infection should be out of your system within two weeks.