Chlamydia is a bacterium that causes a sexually transmitted infection (STI). A chlamydial infection contracted before or during pregnancy can be the cause of reproductive problems, so it’s important to clear it up a.s.a.p. About 2.8 million new cases of this infection occur every year in the U. S. in both sexes, making this one of the most common STIs. It occurs most frequently in people under age 25.
Chlamydia usually has no symptoms, although some infected women experience vaginal discharge and burning on urination. Untreated, chlamydia can spread to the upper genital tract (uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries), resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), often with a superinfection with other bacteria – so not nice! And PID can damage a woman’s fallopian tubes and lead to ectopic pregnancy or infertility.
About 10 percent of pregnant women in the United States are infected with chlamydia. Untreated, they face an increased risk of premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) (bag of waters) and preterm delivery. Babies of untreated women often become infected during vaginal delivery, and infected babies can develop eye infections and pneumonia, which require treatment with antibiotics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all pregnant women be screened for chlamydia infection at the first prenatal visit. Testing is easy and is done on a urine sample or vaginal fluid obtained with a swab. The good news is that chlamydial infection can be cured with antibiotics that prevent complications for mom and baby. It’s important to note that the partner of an infected woman also should be treated, because the infection can be passed back and forth between sexually active couples.