Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have found that women who had contracted the sexually transmitted disease (STD) chlamydia were at increased risk for an ectopic pregnancy– a pregnancy that develops outside of the uterus, usually in the fallopian tubes. Ectopic pregnancies, also sometimes called tubal pregnancies, are not viable and can be dangerous if not detected and treated early.
Women who’ve had chlamydia produce the protein PROKR2 in their fallopian tubes, which can cause subtle changes where the embryo implants. Chlamydia– which is the most commonly reported STD according to the CDC– can be treated but sometimes goes unnoticed as the symptoms may be subtle.
The infection can cause scarring of the fallopian tube, which the fertilized egg needs to traverse in order to get to the womb. We know that scarring of the fallopian tubes is a risk factor for an ectopic pregnancy, but this new research shows that less visible changes caused by chlamydia can affect the pregnancy.
The study was published in the American Journal of Pathology.