Women: "Is Chlamydial infection easily treated?".

The evidence is that most chlamydial infections clear up after a 7 to 10 day course of antibiotics. At the present time chlamydial antibiotic resistance is very rare. Long term or complicated chlamydial infection involving the upper genital tract and tubes may need a longer course of treatment.

Antibiotics are one of the few classes of drugs that can actually cure a disease. However antibiotics cannot reverse any damage already done by the infection. This is why it is important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. You should tell the doctor if you are allergic or sensitive to any antibiotics.

Generally speaking, most other STIs are fairly easy to treat and effective treatment for HIV / AIDS is also available in many countries.

"What happens if I don't get my chlamydial genital infection treated?"

There is a good chance that Chlamydia will go from the neck of the womb (the cervix) into the womb itself and thence into the tubes that lead up to the ovaries and abdomen. Chlamydial infection in the tubes eventually impairs the function of the tubes, or leads to a complete blockage.

If tubal function is impaired, the fertilized egg may develop in the tube instead of in its proper place in the womb. This leads to an atypical pregnancy, known as an ectopic pregnancy, when the developing embryo in the tubes gets large enough to burst the tube. This is an emergency, which has to be treated surgically, and which usually leads to a loss of function of the tube concerned.

If chlamydial infection causes both tubes to be blocked, the result is inability to have children ( infertility). This may not be easy to repair surgically. A classic Swedish study of fertility in women with known tubal infection (largely due to Chlamydia) showed that one attack of tubal infection lead to about 15% infertility, a second attack to about 23% and the third attack to over 50% infertility in women trying to conceive (see pelvic inflammatory disease for details). It is thought that chlamydial infection may be an important reason for women eventually having to resort to IVF ( in vitro fertilization) in order to conceive.

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Gonorrhoea has a similar effect to chlamydial infection but is a less common disease in the UK. World-wide, chlamydial infection and gonorrhoea are major causes of women being unable to bear children.

Chlamydia may also involve the tubes and ovaries to cause abscesses. Furthermore the infection may reach the abdomen, involving the liver or even the outside of the gut. The body’s own response to chlamydial infection may also give rise to arthritis.

Clearly it makes good sense to seek proper medical advice and treatment at an early stage in order to avoid these serious complications.

"What if I am pregnant or trying to get pregnant?"

If a woman has an STI during pregnancy, this could affect her baby either in the womb or at birth. During ante-natal care, screening tests for some STIs, particularly syphilis, are often done in order to ensure that your baby is healthy. Some infections, such as genital warts or genital herpes, may become worse during pregnancy. Blood-borne infections such as syphilis, HIV or hepatitis B and C may also be passed direct to the baby. Fortunately, most STIs can be treated satisfactorily during pregnancy without harming the baby. Nevertheless, it is very important that you tell the doctor treating you that you are or may be pregnant, so that the right baby-friendly drug is used. The next section tells you about chlamydial infection and your baby.

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[MEW] 2011

Topic revision: r7 - 2011-04-16 - MeWard
 
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