Chlamydia in pregnancy

Don't let embarrassment stop you seeking treatment for chlamydia in pregnancy. This STI can be dangerous for both you and your baby

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We all know that having a sexually transmitted infection is no laughing matter. It’s often uncomfortable and quite frankly, a bit embarrassing.

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But you mustn’t let your blushes leave you suffering in silence while pregnant, especially when it comes to chlamydia. Unfortunately there are risks to you and also to your unborn baby, but thankfully it can be treated by specific antibiotics. 

“It is important that chlamydia is treated in pregnancy as it can cause ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or premature labour,” explains midwife Nikki Khan. “If the chlamydia is untreated by delivery, eye infections and pneumonia may be problems in newborns.”

How do I know I have it?  I thought chlamydia didn’t have symptoms

It is true that 70 percent of women show no signs of infection. But there are some things you can look out for – these may be especially noticeable between one and three weeks after catching the infection.  

Definitely see your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following: 

  • Frequent lower abdominal pain
  • Pain deep inside during or after sex
  • A burning sensation when you wee
  • Discoloured, offensive-smelling vaginal discharge

Is there a test for it? 

Luckily diagnosis is fairly straightforward, with a urine test or a vaginal swab.

The swab looks a bit like a cotton bud and is dipped into your vagina. Results will take a few days. Then if you discover you have chlamydia, it can be treated easily with a course of antibiotics.

“There was nothing to the test. Rob and I both took a course of antibiotics and it cleared up in no time,” says Sandra, 22, eight months pregnant.

I’m worried about taking antibiotics while pregnant. Is it safe?

Of course it’s always worrying taking medication when you’re expecting but these are specific antibiotics recommended for use in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

“The one-off dose antibiotics such as Azithromycin and Amoxicillin are often not quite as effective as the ones offered when you are not pregnant,” explains Nikki Khan.

“You will need to be tested again for chlamydia six weeks following treatment to ensure you get the all clear.”

And the risks of not taking the medication are much more of a worry for your baby, such as an ectopic pregnancy.

Jess4 on our forums had a devastating time. “I have just been diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy in my left tube near my ovary,” she says. “I had chlamydia a few years ago which went untreated for about 9 months. I believe the infection damaged my fallopian tubes without me knowing and caused the ectopic. I am finding this very hard to deal with.”

I’ve been tested positive for chlamydia but I’ve already had my baby

As there are often no symptoms it might be that you have only discovered post birth that you have chlamydia.  Hopefully your baby has been born safely but you still need to talk to your doctor and get both of you checked out. 

“These infections in newborns can be treated with oral antibiotics,” says Nikki Khan. “But treatment in pregnancy can prevent this.”

Will having chlamydia affect my fertility or health long-term?

Unfortunately, in some cases, chlamydia can cause infertility. It is also believed to be a possible factor in the development of Asherman’s Syndrome.

This is scarring (adhesions) of the uterus and causes lighter periods or no periods at all. In almost all women who are affected, it leads to infertility.

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