Six things you should know about STIs and fertility

Statistically, nearly half a million people in the UK are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) every year, but did you know that it can also have an adverse affect on your fertility?

There are many associated complications to contracting a sexually transmitted disease; your health can be adversely affected, there is a social stigma attached to STI carriers and, your current and/or future fertility may be put at risk.

As a matter of fact, as many as one quarter of all infertility cases are thought to be caused by a previous case of STI.

We talk to Harley Street Fertility Clinic Director, Dr Geetha Venkat about the common issues associated with STIs and fertility.

Pelvic inflammatory disease is a serious condition

PID is an infection in the upper genital tract and can be either asymptomatic or symptomatic. It is a serious condition because it can permanently damage the uterus and the fallopian tubes. However, if PID is mild and treated early, your chances of conceiving are high. Sadly, if you have severe PID or it goes untreated, the chances of your tubes becoming blocked are higher. It’s estimated that one in five women with PID have fertility problems.

Chlamydia and gonorrhoea can be very dangerous

Both infections present absolutely no obvious symptoms at all, so you might not even realise that you’re infected. Therefore, it’s extremely important to get tested regularly — the longer you’re infected with chlamydia or gonorrhoea, the greater the likelihood that these infections will damage your fallopian tubes and future fertility. It also means that you may be inadvertently infecting a partner, impacting their future fertility as well.

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK

About 50 per cent of women with the infection are asymptomatic. Symptoms and diagnosis are similar to that of chlamydia, although the vaginal discharge can often be watery, yellow or green. The infection is easily treated with antibiotics, but can lead to serious long-term health problems, including infertility, if left unsuccessfully treated.

Herpes

In most cases, the herpes virus does not affect either a woman or a man’s ability to conceive.  However, the biggest detriment that herpes will have on a couple’s fertility is the need to abstain from intercourse during an outbreak in either partner. This can limit their chances of conceiving depending on how long the outbreak is and how often they experience ‘flare ups’.

Male infertility

The negative impact of chlamydia on male infertility is often underestimated. Chlamydia in men can damage sperm and cause scarring in the reproductive tract (which can lead to permanent infertility). It is estimated around 25 to 50 per cent of all male chlamydia cases go completely unnoticed.

Scarring or damage to the fallopian tubes

Can cause what is referred to as “tubal infertility”: Many cases of tubal disease are caused by infection such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Scarred and damaged fallopian tubes can prevent sperm from reaching and fertilising the egg. If an egg does get fertilised, blocked tubes can also keep that fertilised egg from reaching the uterus. This can increase your odds of having an ectopic pregnancy — when the embryo implants in the fallopian tube wall, rather than in the uterus wall.

Were you aware that STIs can cause issues getting pregnant? If you have any questions, just email info@fertilitybabble.com 

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