The researchers found that women who have had a chlamydial infection are at greater risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, a type of pregnancy complication that occurs when the embryo lodges itself outside of the womb, often in the Fallopian tube.
Chlamydia, one of the most common bacterial sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), affects an estimated 50 million women worldwide. In addition to increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancy, the STD can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (an infection of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes) as well as cervicitis (an inflammation of the cervix).
The University of Edinburgh researchers found that chlamydial infections increase the production of a protein called PROKR2 in the Fallopian tubes of infected women. As production of this protein increases, so does the likelihood of an embryo being implanted in the Fallopian tube.
Dr. Andrew Horne, of the Center for Reproductive Biology at the University of Edinburgh, hopes that the study's findings will enable health care providers to effectively educate women on the health complications that can follow a chlamydial infection.