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Chlamydia in Men Linked to Infertility

Researchers Call for Routine Testing
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WebMD Health News

April 29, 2004 -- Chlamydia infection in women has been linked to infertility, and now new research shows the same may be true for men.

Couples participating in a Swedish study were one-third less likely to achieve a pregnancy if the man had a history of infection with chlamydia.

Infertile couples in the study were more likely to have had chlamydia infections in the past than those who did not have trouble conceiving, and the frequency of persistent infection among the infertile couples was also much higher. The findings are reported in the May issue of the journal Human Reproduction.

"Chlamydia infection among men is clearly something that should be considered when couples are first seen for infertility," researcher Jan Olofsson, MD, PhD, tells WebMD. "In the Western world the occurrence of chlamydia infection is rising quite dramatically, and this could certainly impact fertility."

Recognizing Chlamydia

Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection, with 3 million new cases estimated to occur each year in the U.S alone. Although often perceived as a female health problem, recent studies show that infection rates among men equal those among women.

Chlamydia infection in women usually has no symptoms. But if present, they include:

  • Painful urination
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Genital itching
  • Cloudy urine
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Vaginal bleeding with intercourse or between periods

Men with chlamydia infection may have the following symptoms:

  • Painful urination or itching when urinating
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Cloudy urine
  • Tender scrotum

Persistent, untreated infection in women can progress to pelvic inflammatory disease, a leading cause of infertility in women. But the impact of current or past infection among men on their partners' ability to get pregnant has not been clear.

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