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Risk of chlamydia linked to bacteria type

A link between a certain type of bacteria in the vagina and the risk of contracting chlamydia, which can increase the chance of HIV infection and lead to other long-term problems, has been found by researchers in the Netherlands.

A link between a certain type of bacteria in the vagina and the risk of contracting chlamydia, which can increase the chance of HIV infection and lead to other long-term problems if left untreated, has been found by researchers in the Netherlands

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A vaginal smear showing the rod shaped bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus,
which lives in an acidic environment that protects the vagina
from infection. Picture: Science Photo Library

A link between a certain type of bacteria in the vagina and the risk of contracting chlamydia has been found by researchers in the Netherlands.

They examined 122 healthy women aged between 16 and 29 attending an outpatient clinic for sexually transmitted infections.

Swab samples were collected at the women’s first visit, when they were all found to be still free of infection, and were used to study the structure and composition of vaginal microbiota.

No symptoms

One year later the same women were again tested for chlamydia and 61 tested positive.

The researchers found having a microbiota dominated by a bacteria strain called Lactobacillus iners was associated with an increased risk of chlamydia trachomatis.

The condition usually causes no symptoms but can increase the risk of HIV infection if left untreated and lead to long-term complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility.


van Houdt R et al (2017) Lactobacillus iners-dominated vaginal microbiota is associated with increased susceptibility to Chlamydia trachomatis infection in Dutch women: a case-control study. Sexually Transmitted Infections. doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2017-053133

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