When left untreated, there are a number of STDs that can cause additional and often more severe health complications, including infertility. There are a few STDs in particular that can be responsible for infertility in both women and men. In this blog, we’ll run down the details of these infections.
Gonorrhea and Chlamydia
Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia rank as the two most common STDs in the US and both cause infertility. In fact, gonorrhea and chlamydia combined are the leading cause of preventable infertility around the world. Research suggests that chlamydia is responsible for nearly half of all instances of tubal infertility in the developed world. One reason these two infections are so dangerous is that they go undetected. A person can have infection for a long time with no symptoms while the infection does physical damage.
Gonorrhea and chlamydia primarily cause infertility by causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 10-15% of women with untreated chlamydia will develop PID. PID can result in fallopian tube scarring which blocks eggs from traveling to the uterus (called tubal infertility) and increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. Gonorrhea, on the other hand, accounts for about 20% of PID cases in the US.
For men, untreated STDs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia can result in damage to the reproductive tract. Gonorrhea in men can cause infection of the testicles, inflammation of the prostate, scarring of urethra and infertility.
Herpes and HIV
Viral infections such as herpes and HIV can cause a reduction in semen quality, with resulting difficulties related to pregnancy. Research has found herpes cells in semen but what effect these cells have on fertility is currently limited.
Mycoplasma genitalium infection
Mycoplasma genitalium infection is a relatively newer STD because it was identified in the 1980s. M. genitalium has been identified in urethral infections in men and PID in women. Current information hints at potential infertility issues for both men and women.
Preventing infertility from STDs
While none of the above infections are certain to result in infertility for those infected, these infections are identified as potential infertility causes. To protect yourself, get tested regularly and ensure that you and your partner are not living with these infections. STD treatment is available for most of these diseases. Get tested regularly and treated as soon as possible.