Chlamydia does not only damage female fertility, it damages male fertility as well. Chlamydia is the most common STD (sexually transmitted disease) in the United Kingdom. As symptoms of the disease are often not apparent, numerous infected people do not know they are infected.

Researchers from Canalejo University Hospital, La Coruna, Spain, have discovered that Chlamydia harms the quality of the male sperm.

The scientists presented their findings at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Conference, Washington D.C.

They analyzed the sperms of 143 men - they were infected with Chlamydia and another urinary tract infection and had not managed to father children. They found that the degree of DNA fragmentation in these men's sperm was three times higher than in healthy men's. As well as having a low sperm count, they had a higher number of sperms with defective shapes. They also found that infected men's sperm had poor motility (they did not swim well).

After treating 95 of the infertile men with antibiotics for four months, the researchers found that their sperm DNA fragmentation improved 36% - during this time 13% of them managed to get their partners pregnant. By the end of the treatment period 86% of the couples became pregnant.

It is estimated that approximately 10% of UK people aged 18-25 carry the bacteria that causes Chlamydia infection. Although the National Health Service has set up a well-publicized screening program, several health experts fear the disease is not taken seriously enough.

-- American Society for Reproductive Medicine Conference

WHAT IS CHLAMYDIA?

Chlamydia is a bacterium; it usually infects the urethra in males and females, as well as the cervix of females. It can affect the reproductive organs, the eyes, as well as occasionally affecting the joints (causing a kind of arthritis). A reaction to Chlamydia can cause occasional skin problems, a rash on the penis as well as joint pain.

HOW DO YOU GET CHALMYDIA?

You get it by having unprotected sex.

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF CHLAMYDIA?

Often infected people experience no symptoms.

Males:

-- most commonly there are no symptoms
-- stinging sensation when urinating
-- slight discharge from the penis
-- swelling in the testicles and scrotum caused by the bacterium passing to the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles (vas deferens)
-- infertility

Females:

-- 70% of infected females will have no symptoms
-- cervicitis - a chlamydial infection around the cervix which shows as a slight increase in vaginal discharge
-- Stinging when urinating

CHLAMYDIA DURING PREGNANCY

The infection can infect the newborn's eyes or lungs during birth. As Chlamydia can be safely treated during pregnancy it is important that expectant mothers do so.

WHAT TREATMENTS EXIST FOR CHLAMYDIA?

A short course of antibiotics (tetracycline, azithromycin or erythromycin).

WHAT ABOUT MY PARTNER?

If you are infected your partner should see a doctor and be treated as well if he/she is also infected. If your partner is not tested and is infected there is a big risk that you will become infected again - also, he/she could infect other sexual partners.

Written by: Christian Nordqvist