STDs That Cause Infertility
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can cause infertility. They are also two of the leading causes of preventable infertility both in the US and around the world.
There were more than two million cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in the U.S. reported by the CDC in 2017, making them the first and second most common infectious diseases in the country.
While chlamydia and gonorrhea are easily treated with antibiotics, many people may not realize they have an infection because, of the lack of noticeable symptoms. Unfortunately, the longer the infection is left untreated, the more damage that can be done. Women who do show symptoms (approx. 25%) may experience abdominal and/or pelvic pain, spotting, and unusual discharge.
How Can STDs Cause Infertility?
If left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can spread to the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to inflammation, scarring, and blockage in your reproductive organs, such as your fallopian tubes. Tubal scarring can block the tubes preventing the eggs from travelling to the uterus. Women who have damage to their fallopian tubes are also at risk for ectopic pregnancy.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an effective form of fertility treatment for women who have had damage to their fallopian tubes due to STDs. During IVF, sperm and egg are combined in the lab to allow for fertilization outside of the body with subsequent transfer of the embryo back into the uterus.
Screening For STDs
The CDC recommends that all sexually active women 25 and younger be screened at least every year for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Women older than 25 who have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner should also be screened every year. If you do have an STD, be sure that your partner is tested and treated, or he could re-infect you.
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