Nearly half a million people in the UK are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) every year. There are many associated complications to contracting a sexually transmitted disease; your health can be affected, there is often 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.
Ahead of Sexual Health Week 2017 (11- 17th September) we talk to Harley Street Fertility Clinic Director, Dr Venkat about the common issues associated with STI’s 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% 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 – 50% of all male chlamydia cases go completely unnoticed