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Chlamydia In Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Complications And Treatment

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Chlamydia in pregnancy can cause several health issues such as cervical bleeding and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. You may seek medical attention for an exact diagnosis since it is not the only cause of bleeding in pregnancy.

Both men and women can be affected by chlamydia bacterial infection. Although it is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), most people with chlamydia are unaware of their infection since there are no signs and symptoms (asymptomatic).

Read on to know about the symptoms, treatment, and outcomes of chlamydia in pregnancy.

Causes Of Chlamydia

Chlamydia is caused by the transmission of a specific bacterium through sexual contact with the penis, vagina, anus, or mouth of the infected partner. An infected male does not need to ejaculate to transmit chlamydia, and transmission through toilet seats or by sharing towels or cups is impossible (1) (2).

Symptoms Of Chlamydia In Pregnancy

According to the American Pregnancy Association, most pregnant women with chlamydia are asymptomatic. However, some may experience the following symptoms (3):

  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Burning sensation or pain while peeing

Complications Of Chlamydia On Pregnancy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infected pregnant women may experience complications during pregnancy, including preterm labor and premature rupture of membranes (4).

Chlamydia can also cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infecting the womb and the fallopian tubes. PID can lead to fertility problems in the future, ectopic pregnancy, or long-term abdominal pains (1).

Complications Of Chlamydia On The Fetus

A major risk of maternal chlamydia is transmission to the newborn during childbirth through the vaginal canal (perinatal transmission). Therefore, the CDC recommends chlamydia testing in the first trimester for all pregnant women. Babies exposed to maternal chlamydia may develop eye and lung infections (such as pneumonia) and require antibiotics for treatment (4). Chlamydia is also responsible for low birth weight in newborns (3).

Diagnosing Chlamydia

Chlamydia can be easily diagnosed by testing swab samples from the vagina, cervix, anus, or penis. Sometimes, a urine test may also be performed. If your partner tests positive for chlamydial infection, it is important to get yourself tested (3).

Treatment Of Chlamydia During Pregnancy

Antibiotics are the primary treatment for chlamydia. Azithromycin is the first choice of antibiotics and is completely safe in pregnancy (1). It is essential to avoid sexual intercourse during the entire course of treatment and a week beyond that. The infected mother is tested again three months after the treatment is completed.

When one person tests positive, they should inform all their sexual partners to get tested and treated to prevent the further spread of infection. If your partner tests positive but you test negative, you should still get treatment.

Repeated infections of chlamydia are common. Women with sex partners who have not completed their treatment are more likely to get infected again. Male latex condoms and water-based lubricants could effectively prevent most STIs, including chlamydia (3).

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are my chances of contracting chlamydia during pregnancy?

A pregnant woman might contract chlamydia if she is sexually active and (5)

  • Has a partner with STI
  • Has multiple sex partners
  • Has unprotected sex
  • Has a previous or current STI
  1. Can chlamydia cause miscarriage?

There is no evidence that chlamydia can cause miscarriage (1).

  1. What are the long-term complications of chlamydia infection?

People carrying chlamydia infection without receiving treatment are at an increased risk of developing infertility and arthritis in the future (3).

Chlamydia infection can go undiagnosed; therefore, a preventative screening during prenatal visits can be helpful, especially for women with multiple sexual partners. If you are experiencing any symptoms of chlamydia, contact your healthcare professional at the earliest to avoid any long-term repercussions. Furthermore, informing all sexual partners about one’s positive results can help break the chain of infection.

References:

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Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate the latest advancements in the field of dentistry into her practice. Dr. Shah's deep interest in the well-being of babies and children... more