What is the excess risk of infertility in women following genital chlamydia infection? A systematic review of the evidence

LA Wallace , A. Scoular, G Hart, M Reid, P Wilson, DJ Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To summarise evidence on the attributable risk of infertility after chlamydial infection in women.

Methods: Twelve databases were searched, limited to peer-reviewed literature published from January 1970 to September 2007. Conference abstracts and reference lists from reviews published since 2000 and from key articles were hand-searched. Studies were selected for review if they met the following criteria: (1) the study population comprised women of child-bearing age (defined as 15–45 years) and incorporated a comparison group of women documented as “chlamydia negative”; (2) the study outcomes included either infertility or successful pregnancy; and (3) the study design was one of the following: cohort, randomised controlled trial, “before and after” study, screening trial and systematic review. Studies were excluded if they described genital infections that either did not include Chlamydia trachomatis or described genital chlamydial co-infection, in which no data were available for C trachomatis infection alone.

Results: 3349 studies were identified by the search. One study satisfied the inclusion criteria, a longitudinal investigation measuring pregnancy rates in adolescent women with and without current chlamydial infection at baseline. That study reported no significant difference in subsequent pregnancy rates; however, it had serious methodological limitations, which restricted its conclusions.

Conclusions: This systematic review demonstrates the absence of valid evidence on the attributable risk of post-infective tubal factor infertility after genital chlamydial infection. The findings contribute empirical data to the growing debate surrounding previous assumptions about the natural history of chlamydial infection in women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171–175
Number of pages5
JournalSexually Transmitted Infections
Issue number3
Early online date30 Nov 2007
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


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