Women’s Fertility and Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Complication:
There’s a hidden cause of infertility that you don’t hear about very often: sexually transmitted diseases.
Even if you haven’t slept with a new partner in years, it’s worth ruling out a hidden STD if you’re having trouble conceiving.
STDs can lie dormant in your body for years, causing symptoms so mild you might not even notice them.
Here are the important STDs you need to be aware of that can impact your fertility or pregnancy.
Most cases of chlamydia are never reported because the majority of those infected show no signs of illness at all.
Some women who do show symptoms may experience pelvic pain, spotting, and unusual discharge.
Treatment for Chlamydia
Chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics.
But since so many women don’t realize they have chlamydia, it often goes untreated.
The bacteria may move from the cervix into the upper genital tract and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Chlamydia and Fertility
Not only does Chlamydia compromise your fertility, it affects your baby. If you have a chlamydia infection when you go into labour, there’s a chance that you’ll pass the bacteria to your baby.
If your baby contracts chlamydia during childbirth, he/she may develop an eye infection (conjunctivitis) a few days to a few weeks after birth.
Your baby is also at risk of developing a serious lung infection (pneumonia) a few weeks to several months after birth.
Although these infections can be very serious, babies who are treated promptly with antibiotics generally do well.
Of course, it’s best to get treated before delivery to prevent your baby from becoming infected in the first place.
Gonorrhoea is a common STD that often causes no symptoms.
Like chlamydia, the symptoms of gonorrhoea infection are usually mild, such as pain when urinating, spotting, and unusual discharge.
Treatment for Gonorrhea
Gonorrhoea also can be successfully treated with antibiotics – this usually requires just one dose of injectable antibiotics.
Just like chlamydia, if left untreated, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease.
Gonorrhoea and Fertility
If you have gonorrhoea infection when you deliver, your baby may contract a gonorrhoeal eye infection at birth.
If left untreated, this can result in blindness. Gonorrhoea infection can also spread to other parts of a baby’s body, causing serious problems such as blood or joint infections and meningitis (brain infection).
3. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a complication of chlamydia and gonorrhoea infection. The symptoms of PID include pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding or abnormal vaginal discharge. PID can also be completely asymptomatic. PID causes inflammation and scarring, which can block a woman’s fallopian tubes, preventing fertilization and pregnancy.
If a pregnancy does occur, complications are common, namely ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside womb).
PID can be treated with antibiotics, but severe scar tissue may need to be removed surgically to improve her fertility or to resolve pelvic pain.
4. HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
Another STD that can result in problems with your fertility and pregnancy is HIV.
HIV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse and can also be transmitted to a baby during pregnancy and through breastfeeding.
HIV cannot be cured and there is currently no vaccine to prevent it, but safer sex practices can prevent transmission.
Use of assisted reproductive technology can minimise the risk of transmission in HIV discordant couples ( those where one partner is HIV-infected and the other is not ) wishing to have children.
Syphilis is an STD caused by infection by the bacteria Treponema Palladum. Syphilis infections are uncommon but can interfere with your pregnancy.
This infection can be transmitted from mother to foetus during pregnancy; this is known as congenital syphilis.
Congenital syphilis can result in serious health problems for the child at birth and later in life.
Learn more about the 4 stages of Syphilis
Screening for STDs is easy. If you’re sexually active, annual screening is prudent.
If you have any symptoms or had unprotected sex with a new partner, get an STD test.
The earlier STDs are diagnosed, the less likely they are to negatively impact your fertility.
And if you do have an STD, be sure that your partner is tested and treated, or he could re-infect you.
(This article “Can STDs Cause Women’s Infertility” is written by Our Guest writer Dr Mastura Shahrum)
Take care gals!
Dr. Mastura Shahrum
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