Are sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in girls related to infertility? Can having an STD affect your future chances of conceiving?
The bad news is, yes it can.
Read on to find out more about why sexually active girls should have regular STD screens and how this can affect your future.
What Exactly Are Sexually Transmitted Diseases?
Sexually transmitted diseases can affect anybody who is sexually active. Your risk is higher if you have a history of multiple partners, a recent change in sexual partner or unprotected vaginal/oral/anal sex.
STDs encompass any type of infection that is acquired or spread through sexual intercourse or contact. This can be through various methods including vaginal, oral or anal intercourse.
Here is a list of the types of STDs that are commonly tested in women:
- Human Papilloma Virus
- Herpes Simplex Virus
- Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Herpes Antibody
How Does STD Affect Your Fertility?
The thing about STDs in women is this: majority of women DO NOT show symptoms even if they have been infected.
The main type of STD and the most common infection amongst women is by far Chlamydia.
With the majority of chlamydia infections in women being asymptomatic, several women affected are unaware that they even have the infection, and hence do not receive the appropriate treatment in time.
Prolonged and untreated chlamydia infection in females can eventually lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, whereby the infection spreads to the uterus and fallopian tubes. This causes inflammation, swelling or scarring in these organs that is irreversible. Chlamydia can also cause scarring around the liver, which is referred to as Fitz Hugh Curtis Disease.
Many women do not discover their infections until they undergo fertility testing and investigations due to their difficulties in conceiving.
Do The Other STDs Affect Fertility?
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are the main infections that are the most closely associated with infertility.
Chlamydia is by far the most commonly seen STD in women, especially those in the reproductive age group.
Some people also believe that infections such as Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma can affect a woman’s fertility, but this is less common and less studied.
While the other STDs do not directly affect your fertility, they can have a significant impact on your pregnancy and baby subsequently.
Infections such as HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis B can be transmitted from mother to child via vertical transmission, while active chlamydia, gonorrhoea or herpes can affect the baby during delivery.
What Should I Do?
This shows the importance of regular STD screening for younger women who are sexually active.
Always get yourself screened for STDs regularly every 6 months to a year, or whenever you have a new partner.
Protect yourself from STD transmission with the use of condoms as well.
Remember, prevention and early treatment is always better than dealing with complications further down the road!