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Can Sexually Transmitted Infections Affect Fertility?

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According to the World Health Organization, more than a million people become ill with some kind of sexually transmitted infection (STI) each day. Sexually transmitted infections are often present without symptoms and go unnoticed. Some of these conditions have serious consequences. In other words, they do more harm to the body than they appear to.

For instance, some of the most commonly found STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia are major causes of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus), pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. However, these are preventable causes of infertility. Let us consider how gonorrhea and chlamydia impair the reproductive system causing fertility.

How STI’s affect the reproductive system

Symptoms in women include:

  • Vaginal pain or burning
  • Change in texture or color of vaginal discharge
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Spotting
  • Burning feeling while urinating
  • Pelvic pain (in advanced stages)

If you experience pelvic pain, it could indicate that the infection has proceeded to the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes as well. Women with STIs are at a higher risk of experiencing tubal infertility than women without any infection. These infections can cause permanent damage to the reproductive organs, if left untreated.

Symptoms in men include:

  • Mild burning during urination
  • Grey/yellow penile discharge
  • Testicular pain

The above symptoms may resolve even if medication is not taken, however the infection remains.

Prevention and treatment of gonorrhea and chlamydia

The most effective way to prevent any kind of STIs is to abstain from sexual intercourse and avoid having multiple sexual partners. Barrier methods of contraception are also very effective against the spread of these infections.

However, if you are trying to conceive, it is advisable that you consult a physician and receive the recommended treatment for the infection. This is extremely essential because infections can be transmitted from mother-to-child during pregnancy resulting in:

  • Amnionitis
  • Prematurity
  • Sepsis
  • Congenital disease
  • Stillbirth
  • Neonatal death
  • Neonatal conjunctivitis
  • Low birth weight
  • Pneumonia

Most STIs are treated easily with a dosage of antibiotics. Early detection and treatment of infections are important. If you think you and/or your partner’s fertility has been compromised by a sexually transmitted disease, visit a fertility expert to learn what kinds of IVF/IUI treatment options you have.

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