STDs and Fertility

An STD (or STI) refers to any disease or infection that is primarily passed from one person to another through intercourse or a sexual act. Sexually transmitted diseases can be rooted in bacteria, fungi or viruses. Since they are not always symptomatic, STDs require proper testing and diagnosis so that they can be effectively treated.

 

While STDs can affect both women and men, females may have much more at stake if the infection is not treated properly. Untreated STDs can also affect your ability to have a baby in the future. STD screenings, therefore, become an essential part of caring for your health and preventing female infertility.

 

Gonorrhea and Chlamydia

 

An estimated 2.86 million cases of chlamydia and 820,000 cases of gonorrhea occur annually in the United States. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are two STD’s that are most known for their contribution towards infertility. These are also some of the most treatable STD’s, which can prevent a devastating outcome of irreversible reproductive damage.

 

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are considered bacterial infections that are transmitted through sexual contact. Unfortunately, most woman do not present signs and symptoms of these STD’s. However, chlamydia and gonorrhea can both cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) if not treated in a timely manner. PID is serious because it can lead to scar tissue on the fallopian tubes that can essentially block a released egg from the ovary, thus preventing a natural conception or pregnancy. PID develops when one of the STD’s microorganisms travel from the cervix or vagina to infect the reproductive organs.

 

While PID can be treated with antibiotics, this treatment typically won’t reverse scarring of the reproductive organs. Sadly, just one single episode of PID can cause irreversible damage of the reproductive organs, leaving 12% of women infertile. To make matters worse, just like the STD’s that cause it, PID can often be asymptomatic. One of the best ways to prevent infertility caused by PID, therefore, is to schedule regular STD testing and get prompt treatment if you have a confirmed STD.

 

STDs can be diagnosed using a variety of simple, non-invasive testing measures, including pap smears, swabs, blood tests and urine tests. Like all medical testing and services at North Pointe OB/GYN, our STD testing is kept strictly confidential. In fact, federal law prohibits doctors from sharing any information about a patient’s STD testing. STD testing, however, is optional so it is important to know what is at stake if you decline screenings – especially if you would like to start a family one day.

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