Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), have long been a public health risk, and their prevalence in the last few years has grown significantly in the UK. They affect people of all ages, races, and genders.
STDs can cause severe damage to your health, and one of the most severe health effects of some STDs is the loss of fertility. Infertility can be devastating for anyone, especially those who are actively trying to start a family.
In this blog post, we will explore how different STDs can cause infertility and the preventative measures you can take to protect yourself.
Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the world. It is caused by the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria.
If left untreated, Chlamydia infections can cause infertility. Women are at particular risk, since a Chlamydia infection can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID can start days or weeks after the initial infection. PID causes inflammation and abscesses in the ovaries and fallopian tubes. If left untreated, PID can cause permanent scarring, which can block the passage of the eggs and sperm through the fallopian tubes. This makes it very difficult for the sperm and eggs to meet following intercourse. PID also increases the risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy.
In men, Chlamydia can lead to the inflammation of the epididymis, which carries sperm from the testicles. In some studies, infection with Chlamydia bacteria correlates with moderate to severe infertility in men.
In women, the bacteria that cause Gonorrhoea can infect the vagina, cervix, and other reproductive organs, causing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and permanent damage to the fallopian tubes.
In men, Gonorrhoea can cause inflammation of the epididymis and prostate gland, leading to reduced sperm production and infertility.
Like Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea, Trichomonas is a bacterial STI that can also put the infected person at risk of infertility.
A systematic review of relevant scientific literature has found a correlation between Trichomonas infections and male and female infertility. In women, a Trichomonas infection can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes – such as premature birth and low birth weight – as well as atypical pelvic inflammation and infertility.
In men, the extracellular secretions of Trichomonas bacteria can impair sperm quality, including motility and viability.
Similar to the infections above, Mycoplasma puts the infected person at risk of conditions that can cause infertility. While Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea are the most common bacterial STIs, Mycoplasma can often fly under the radar.
Like their bacterial STI counterparts, Mycoplasma can put females at risk of PID and infertility, and put males at risk of infertility as well.
Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) infections are sexually transmitted. Both HSV I and HSV II can be transmitted during sexual contact.
Most people who have Herpes infections do not have any problems with fertility. However, there is some evidence to suggest that a Genital Herpes infection can affect sperm quality in men. Herpes infections can also correlate with reproductive problems in women.
Some studies have also suggested that the HIV virus itself can affect sperm health.
Taking care of your reproductive health is essential for overall well-being. Any sexually active person, regardless of age, should get tested for STDs regularly.
One way is to use Better2Know’s STI testing services. You can receive accurate and confidential results, enabling you to take appropriate action. By understanding the types of STDs that can affect fertility, you can take steps to protect yourself and your sexual and reproductive health. Remember, early detection of STDs and their treatment can prevent unwanted complications and ensure you are taking necessary measures to protect your fertility.