High rates of active chlamydia infection in the testes of infertile men

3 min

Chlamydia trachomatis (C. trachomatis) infections are diagnosed in more than 120 million people per year globally, yet millions more of the infections produce no symptoms and remain undetected.

Chlamydial infection has been associated with infertility in women, but much less is known about its impact on male fertility. A new study has shown an unexpectedly high rate of active C.

trachomatis infection in testis biopsies from infertile men, suggesting it may be associated with the impairment of sperm production.

Male infertility accounts for approximately 40% of all human infertility, but in most men the cause remains undiagnosed. In women, chlamydia is a known causal factor for infertility but whether C. trachomatis infection can impair fertility in men is not known.

Infectious diseases such as mumps play a role in spermatogenic dysfunction, and bacteria in semen, including C. trachomatis, are associated with abnormal sperm parameters.

However, semen analyses in men with fertility problems do not reveal any consistent indicators associated with chlamydial infection.

Studies in mice showed chlamydia infection impairs testis health, sperm production and function, raising the question of whether C. trachomatis infection could contribute to infertility in men.

At least half of all men infected with chlamydia are likely to remain undiagnosed and therefore it is important to understand whether asymptomatic C. trachomatis could contribute to male fertility.

To address possible links between chlamydia infection and male infertility, research headed by Healthy Male Medical Director, Professor Rob McLachlan AM, collected testis biopsies from more than one hundred men with the one of the most severe forms of infertility: zero sperm count, or azoospermia.

The investigators used various techniques to detect C. trachomatis infection in the biopsies and, in some men, evidence of infection in the blood and urine was also assessed.

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