Chlamydia is one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Diseases in North America. If it is not diagnosed and treated, it can cause infertility in males and females, ectopic pregnancies or infected Fallopian tubes and ovaries in women or pneumonia in babies born to infected women.

It is caused by a bacterium, is easy to diagnose and treat by your famly doctor or Sexual Health Clinic.

Usually spread by sexual intercourse, in a female, the bacteria travels up through the cervix, uterus and into the Fallopian tubes. It may develop into an abscess which generally heals and goes away, but can leave scar tissue which can block the Tubes. No signs or symptoms - the woman will still ovulate, still menstruate, and can easily spread the disease to other partners.

She may not be able to get pregnant because the blocked Fallopian tube prevents sperm from reaching the egg, or as occasionally happens, the tube is not completely blocked, so the smaller sperm can pass, impregnate an egg, but the much larger fertilized egg cannot move through the tube and implant in the uterus.

Called an ECTOPIC PREGNANCY, the embryo grows in the tube for about 8 weeks, but when the tube cannot expand any more, ruptures and then the woman is in danger of hemorrhaging. Emergency surgery will remove the damaged tube and probably that ovary. If both tubes are affected, she will be infertile. There is surgery that might effectively open up the tube but there is no guarantee.

In males, the bacteria enters through his urethra, (penis) and travels down to the Vas leading into the testicles. Here an abscess will form, no pain, no problem, but the resulting scar tissue will block the Vas. This prevents sperm from traveling from his testicles and being ejaculated. He will still have erections, produce lubrication and will ejaculate, (seminal fluid only) so he is "shooting blanks."

In males, the scar tissue can be surgically removed and he will probably be fertile again.

Early diagnosis and treatment is essential. A simple urine test will show the presence of the bacteria and oral antibiotics will treat the infection.

Chlamydia can also be spread to the throat by oral sex. If you have the virus on your hand and you touch your face, it can also be spread to the eyes.

Prevention is the best option - SAFER SEX, insist on condom use every time you have intercourse.