Home / Science / Health /  Sexually transmitted diseases/infections can cause infertility. How to prevent?

World Health Organisation (WHO) has pointed out that Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) can also cause infertility. And elaborating on the topic further experts notified, "The two major causes of STD-related infertility are pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and damage to the fallopian tubes."

Dr. Ritu Hinduja, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF Fertility in Mumbai told HT Lifestyle, “Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection commonly caused by STDs, can lead to tubal factor infertility as well as damage the ovaries, which can also contribute to infertility. Some STDs, such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia, can affect fertility in men and women. These often go unnoticed due to a lack of symptoms, resulting in more damage."

“Sexually transmitted diseases can directly or indirectly cause infertility in women and in men. When STDs are left untreated, infections can develop that cause infertility by moving up the reproductive system and spreading to the woman’s uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes causing damage, scarring, or inflammation. The two major causes of STD-related infertility are pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and damage to the fallopian tubes," she added.

When bacteria enter the reproductive system, PID is most commonly caused by the STDs gonorrhoea or chlamydia.

“PID causes scarring of the cervix, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. If left untreated, PID can cause irreversible damage resulting in infertility. Problems with the fallopian tubes are a leading cause of female infertility and such problems can be caused by STDs," Dr. Ritu informed.

PID is one of the major causes of tubal factor infertility and 25-35% of female infertility is a direct consequence of tubal factor infertility.

"If the fallopian tubes are damaged or blocked, it can result in infertility in two ways: it can prevent sperm from reaching the egg in the fallopian tube for fertilization and it can prevent a fertilized egg from entering the uterus to an implant for pregnancy," she added.

“Herpes simplex virus (HSV), human papillomavirus (HPV) and syphilis can indirectly affect fertility. HSV can cause the couple to abstain from sexual intercourse, which limits the chances of becoming pregnant. HPV can cause genital warts that may take months or years to treat and some strains of HPV can also lead to cervical cancer or precancerous cells, the treatment of which can affect fertility. Syphilis if left untreated can affect infertility in women and men.," Dr. Ritu cautioned.

Treatment is a must to prevent infertility

Infertility is a result of not paying adequate attention and not treating the underlying STDs.

“If STDs are diagnosed and treated sufficiently, they are less likely to have a negative impact on fertility. Screening for STDs is accessible and low cost. The earlier STDs are diagnosed, the better the chances of them not affecting infertility.," Dr. Ritu informed.

“Using condoms in the correct way can lessen the chances of an STD. Avoid sexual intercourse with anyone showing symptoms such as a rash, genital sores, or discharge. Having fewer partners and getting tested with a partner can lower the chances of contracting an STD. Getting vaccinated can prevent catching some of the most common STDs. Communicate with any sexual partners about staying safe from STDs before having sex. Get tested to confirm the possibility of having an STD. Follow up with treatment, as many STDs are curable and all are treatable," she advised.

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