When left untreated, there are a number of STDs that can cause additional and often more severe health complications, and this includes STDs that cause infertility. There are a few STDs in particular that can be responsible for infertility in both men and women. In this blog, we’ll run down the details of these infections.
Gonorrhea and Chlamydia
Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia can both cause infertility, and they’re the two most common STDs in the US. One reason that these two infections can be so dangerous is that they can often go undetected, which means someone could have the infection for a long time before ever noticing the signs, thus giving the infection time to progress into the development of other issues. Gonorrhea and chlamydia primarily cause infertility by causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can result in scarring on the fallopian tubes and other reproductive organs. Gonorrhea and chlamydia combined are the leading cause of preventable infertility in the US and around the world.
According to the CDC, approximately 10-15% of women with untreated chlamydia will develop PID. Untreated chlamydia can also cause an infection of the fallopian tubes. These and other infections of the upper genital tract can often go undetected and can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes. Chlamydia can cause inflammation that leads to scarring of the fallopian tubes, which blocks eggs from traveling to the uterus. This is referred to as tubal infertility, and research suggests that chlamydia is responsible for nearly half of all instances of tubal infertility in the developed world.
Gonorrhea, on the other hand, accounts for about 20% of PID cases in the US. It’s estimated that 10-20% of women with gonorrhea have symptoms of PID.
Herpes and HIV
While infertility issues associated with untreated STDs in men are less common, they are still possible. Infections associated with untreated STDs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, can also result in damage to the male reproductive tract. Additionally, certain viral infections, like herpes and HIV, can cause a reduction in semen quality, which can result in difficulties related to getting pregnant. Herpes cells have also been found in semen, though research as to what effect these cells might have on the ability to get pregnant is limited.
PID that isn’t caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia is, in most cases, caused by mycoplasma. Though it is a relatively newer STD, having only been discovered in the late 1980s, it’s estimated that more than 1 in 100 adults might have mycoplasma.
Preventing infertility from STDs
While none of the above infections are certain to result in infertility for those infected, it’s important to be careful and get tested regularly to make sure that you are not unknowingly living with any of these infections, and neither is your partner. STD treatment is available for most of these diseases, so there’s no reason to not get tested regularly and treated as soon as possible.