Careless sex practices may be contributing to female infertility; researchers urge additional testing for Chlamydia
01/12/2018 // Jhoanna Robinson // Views

Scientists are being asked to take into consideration a new aspect when it comes to acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STD), mainly in part because there are now forms of STD that can be transmitted even through oral and anal sex.

Does active oral sex contribute to female infertility?” This is the question asked by University of Maryland School of Dentistry professor Patrik Bavoil and his colleagues at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

In a study which appeared in the Journal of Infectious Diseases on Nov. 15, 2017, Bavoil and his colleagues presented a compelling argument that can support their hypothesis that Chlamydia trachomatis can go from “principal pathogen to commensal organism/opportunistic pathogen”.

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial genital infectious disease in women in the United States; it can be asymptomatic (producing or showing no symptoms) or weakly symptomatic (showing a sign of something undesirable). If left untreated, either via antibiotics or the body's immune system, the infection can lead to more dangerous problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, urethricitis, cervicitis, and tubal factor infertility, among others.

Chlamydia sometimes doesn't manifest itself in the body of the person who contracted it – he or she will be surprised to find out that he or she has it, a few months or even years later. (Related: STD infection rates reach all-time high in the United States.)

An indirect but compelling argument that supports the idea that C. trachomatis colonizes the [gastrointestinal tract] without clinical disease is that most, if not all, other Chlamydia species are first and foremost innocuous gut commensals,” the authors of the study said.


In developed, sanitized regions of the world, sexual transmission remains the major route by which C. trachomatis disseminates among men and women. GI tract colonization, may, however, be making a comeback with the help of increasing oral sex practices,” they added.

Having said this, the researchers are of the opinion that clinicians should be recommended to move beyond the what has been tried-and-tested mode of screening for chlamydia by expanding testing to rectal and pharyngeal areas of sexually active adults, and not merely their urogenital sites.

The researchers said clinicians should consider the following hypothesis:

  1. From the human GI tract, the oculogenital pathogen C. trachomatis is now transmissible via the fecal-oral route.
  2. C. trachomatis now has the capability of spreading infection at non-GI tract sites under conditions where sanitation and hygiene factor in.
  3. The increase in the number of people who practice oral sex contributes to the rise of C. trachomatis infection cases in the human GI tract. This is because the presence of the pathogen in the rectum will not necessarily hinder the spread of infection to the urogenital tract.

More facts about chlamydia

Chlamydia can be considered a recurring disease; just because you were already treated for it in the past doesn't mean you can't get infected again if your sexual partner has it and you had unprotected sex.

The people who are most at risk of contracting the disease are sexually active young people who indulge in sexual contact with multiple partners without protection. Men who have sex with other men are at risk, too, for chlamydia can spread through oral and anal sex.

The only way to lower the risks of your contracting an STD such as chlamydia is to stay in a long-term mutually monogamous sexual relationship with a person who tested negative for any kind of sexually transmitted infection and/or to use protection, such as condoms, every time you have sex.

For more stories about reducing your risk of infectious diseases, visit

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