Chlamydia - Why can it affect women so badly?

The reason why chlamydia can have such a devastating effect in women is because it can travel to the delicate reproductive organs. The uterus, or womb, is shaped like an upside-down pear with its lower end narrowing to form a protective opening called the cervix. In teenage girls the cervix is still not fully developed and matured and is lined with fresh tissue that is easily infected by chlamydia. Of course you can catch chlamydia at any age but their young cervix makes teenage girls far more vulnerable. But it doesn’t just stop at the cervix. The bacterium can creep upward to the uterus and fallopian tubes, the fine tubes that act as guides for the egg to move from the ovaries, at ovulation, down into the uterus. It can cause chronic inflammation and infection in these tubes, which may not be noticed for many months or even years. This long-term infection can cause the tubes to gradually scar and become blocked so that while you may still be producing eggs they are not able to travel down into the womb to get fertilized by sperm. This condition is known as pelvic inflammatory disease and whilst there are other causes of it, we know that half of all PID cases may be due to chlamydia. PID is a concern because not only can it ruin your fertility but also if a pregnancy does occur it can cause it to form outside the uterus (called a tubal or ectopic pregnancy). The scarring can also cause pain that can last for months or even years. Occasionally, the effects of PID can be so severe that surgery is required to remove pus, get rid of scar tissue or remove the damaged organs.

PID can cause different symptoms in different women, but generally includes dull pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen, vaginal discharge that is often yellow or green and may have an unpleasant smell, irregular menstrual periods, such as extra long periods, spotting or cramps throughout the month, chills, high fever, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, pain during sex, lower back pain and painful urination. Some women who have PID don’t experience any of these symptoms and so have no idea that they have it –the first time that it is diagnosed is when they have been trying to get pregnant for long time without success. Please don’t let this be you - get tested for Chlamydia.

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