I was always taught that chlamydia (a bacterial sexually transmitted infection) could cause infertility in women but didn’t affect men at all. Now it seems that male fertility may also be affected by chlamydial infections.
New research from Spain suggests that chlamydia can damage sperm DNA as well as their swimming ability. In fact, DNA damage in sperm from men infected with chlamydia is 3 times higher than in uninfected sperm. Also, fertility rates my be reduced by as much as 73% in couples infected with chlamydia.
Fortunately for men, their new sperm (produced after antibiotic treatment for chlamydia) appears to be normal/unaffected. For women, the damage is permanent. The crafty chlamydia bacteria crawl up into the fallopian tubes and create such an inflammatory reaction that the tubes are often scarred for life. Eggs released by the ovaries may be blocked from entering the uterus from narrowed and scarred fallopian tubes. This is why one chlamydial infection can put a woman at increased risk for ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain.
It is estimated that as many as 1 in 10 people ages 18-25 are actively infected with chlamydia (in the US and Britain). The treatment can be as simple as one dose of oral antibiotics (1g of Azithromycin). Since chlamydia can be asymptomatic in men and women, and hard to diagnose in men in particular – I personally would recommend having both partners take a dose of Azithromycin before having unprotected sex in a monogamous relationship. Obviously, it’s always far better to have protected sex – but since 1 in 10 people have this infection, it seems pretty clear that people are not using condoms all the time. If you want to preserve your fertility – be vigilant about this infection. The good news here is that it’s easy to treat and can be prevented.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.