How to use Chlamydia antibody testing in subfertility patients

Hum Reprod. 1998 Apr;13(4):1094-8. doi: 10.1093/humrep/13.4.1094.


Screening for tubal factor subfertility by means of Chlamydia antibody testing (CAT) was introduced into the initial work-up of subfertile couples several years ago. The results reported, however, are heterogeneous, and no uniformity exists in cut-off levels of titres, or in definitions of tubal factor subfertility. We performed a prospective cohort study to evaluate the implications of varying the definitions of tubal pathology and of modifying the cut-off levels on the clinical impact of CAT in predicting tubal factor subfertility. In 227 consecutive patients who attended our fertility clinic, the Chlamydia IgG antibody titre was determined and related to tuboperitoneal abnormalities at laparoscopy as a reference standard. According to received operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis, a titre of 16 is the optimum cut-off level. Increasing the cut-off level improves specificity and positive likelihood ratio (LR+), at the expense of sensitivity and negative LR (LR-). Changing the definition of tubal factor subfertility from unspecified tuboperitoneal abnormalities into extensive adhesions and/or bilateral distal tubal occlusion improves LR+, LR- and kappa significantly. We conclude that CAT is more accurate in predicting severe distal tubal pathology than unspecified tuboperitoneal abnormalities. Although from a statistical point of view a titre of 16 is the optimum cut-off level, from a clinical point of view 32 or 64 may be preferable, depending on the aim of screening and the inception cohort.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / immunology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Fallopian Tube Diseases / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Infertility, Female / immunology*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Antibodies, Bacterial