Can Chlamydia Cause a Miscarriage?

Woman in Blue Holds Her Pregnant Belly
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Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD), with as many as 1 to 2 million new infections diagnosed each year. If you get diagnosed with chlamydia while you are pregnant, you will likely have many questions.

Here's what you need to know about the risks associated with developing chlamydia during pregnancy, as well as information about testing and treatment.

Does Chlamydia Cause Miscarriage?

There is some evidence that chlamydia infection during pregnancy could play a role in miscarriage.

In 2011, a Swiss study of blood, vaginal fluid, and placenta samples from women found a higher rate of signs of chlamydia in women who miscarried compared to women who carried their babies to term.

The study's findings appeared to support the theory that there is an increased risk of miscarriage in women who are infected with chlamydia. However, other studies have failed to document such an association.

A 2017 review of evidence described two additional microorganisms believed to pose a possible risk to pregnant women. W. chondrophila and P. acanthamoebae are similar to Chlamydia trachomatis and other chlamydia-related bacteria.

The researchers concluded that these bacteria were associated with adverse outcomes in pregnancy including miscarriage and stillbirth. Of particular note, the researchers suggested that these bacteria be considered when a woman has had repeated miscarriages of unknown cause.

Chlamydia and Pregnancy Outcomes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), untreated chlamydia can increase the risk of several adverse outcomes in pregnancy.

Possible pregnancy complications that are associated with chlamydia infection include:

Your baby could also become infected with chlamydia during delivery if you are not being treated for the infection. Exposure to chlamydia at birth can cause infections of the eyes and lungs of newborns.

A past chlamydia infection can also lead to future fertility problems. Chlamydia has been implicated as one of the main causes of female infertility worldwide.

Having chlamydia might also increase your risk of having an ectopic pregnancy (a non-viable pregnancy). This is because a chlamydia infection increases the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and tubal scarring—both of which are associated with the development of an ectopic pregnancy.

Chlamydia During Pregnancy

You can take steps to protect yourself and your baby from chlamydia before and during your pregnancy. If you do acquire the infection, it's important that you are diagnosed and get treatment as soon as possible.

Getting tested and treated for chlamydia (or any other STD) is an important part of ensuring the health of your pregnancy. However, diagnosing the infection can be difficult because women with chlamydia do not always have symptoms.

Women with chlamydia who do have symptoms often report:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Itching/burning with urination

Researchers do not fully understand the relationship between chlamydia and miscarriage, but many of the known risks of having the infection can affect you whether you're pregnant or not.

The testing for chlamydia is simple. It usually involves a urine sample or a sample of vaginal fluid that is taken with a swab.

You should be tested for chlamydia at your first prenatal visit. If you are considered to be high risk for the infection, you will likely be tested again in your third trimester.

Getting Treatment

If you have symptoms of chlamydia or believe that you are at risk for the infection (or any STD), talk to your doctor about getting tested as well as the possible need for treatment.

You can be safely treated for chlamydia while you are pregnant with a single dose of an oral antibiotic called azithromycin. You should be tested again in 3 to 4 weeks to make sure the infection has cleared.

You might need to be tested for chlamydia again later in your pregnancy to make sure that you have not reacquired it. Your partner(s) will also need to be tested and, if needed, receive treatment.

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  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2017. Published September 2018.

  2. Baud D, Goy G, Jaton K, et al. Role of Chlamydia trachomatis in miscarriageEmerg Infect Dis. 2011;17(9):1630–1635. doi:10.3201/eid1709.100865

  3. Ammerdorffer A, Stojanov M, Greub G, Baud D. Chlamydia trachomatis and chlamydia-like bacteria: new enemies of human pregnancies. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2017;30(3):289-296. doi:10.1097/QCO.0000000000000369

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. STDs during Pregnancy - CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed). Updated February 11, 2016.

  5. Malhotra M, Sood S, Mukherjee A, Muralidhar S, Bala M. Genital Chlamydia trachomatis: an updateIndian J Med Res. 2013;138(3):303–316.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Chlamydia Treatment and Care. Updated December 9, 2016.

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