Chlamydia trachomatis, a hidden epidemic: effects on female reproduction and options for treatment

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2010 Jun;63(6):576-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0897.2010.00819.x. Epub 2010 Feb 28.


The number of genital tract Chlamydia trachomatis infections is steadily increasing worldwide, with approximately 50-70% of infections asymptomatic. There is currently no uniform screening practice, current antibiotic treatment has failed to prevent the increased incidence, and there is no vaccine available. We examined studies on the epidemiology of C. trachomatis infections, the effects infections have on the female reproductive tract and subsequent reproductive health and what measures are being taken to reduce these problems. Undetected or multiple infections in women can lead to the development of severe reproductive sequelae, including pelvic inflammatory disease and tubal infertility. There are two possible paradigms of chlamydial pathogenesis, the cellular and immunological paradigms. While many vaccine candidates are being extensively tested in animal models, they are still years from clinical trials. With no vaccine available and antibiotic treatment unable to halt the increased incidence, infection rates will continue to increase and cause a significant burden on health care systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Chlamydia Infections* / complications
  • Chlamydia Infections* / drug therapy
  • Chlamydia Infections* / epidemiology
  • Chlamydia Infections* / microbiology
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / immunology
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / pathogenicity*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility* / epidemiology
  • Infertility* / etiology
  • Infertility* / prevention & control
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease* / complications
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease* / drug therapy
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease* / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents