Sexually transmitted diseases or STDs can be the cause of major health problems from genital tract infection, psychological stress, to even life-threatening conditions.
Many sexually active individuals will become infected with at least one STD during their lifetime but this is mostly limited to benign conditions such as genital warts.
On the other side of the spectrum, HIV infections present a real danger to the sexually active person. Another cause of worry from STDs is their effect on fertility. STDs do and can lead to infertility in some even long after the disease was treated.
In case you want to learn more about how sexually transmitted diseases can affect your fertility, keep reading.
Why would STDs Cause Infertility?
According to an article published in Plos Pathogens, the reason why some STD-causing pathogens may lead to infertility is because it benefits them.
From an evolutionary perspective, not being able to conceive would mean more sexual encounters and a change of partners. On the other hand, pregnancy reduces the number of sexual encounters which can prevent the spreading of these pathogens.
Although this is just a theory, it does make sense that STD pathogenic organisms would benefit from causing infertility as this increases their chance of spreading to other hosts.
What STDs Lead to Infertility?
Many known STDs can lead to infertility to some extent or the other. For instance, chlamydia which may cause pelvic inflammatory disease is known to be a major cause of infertility in women.
Other STDs that could cause infertility are gonorrhea, gardnerella vaginalis, Trichomonas vaginalis, genital herpes, and HIV infections.
Most of these STDs can cause infertility by damaging the sexual organs. Pelvic inflammatory disease is frequently a reaction to these pathogens and that, if left untreated, can permanently damage the fallopian tubes, uterus lining, ovaries, etc.
HIV infections also cause a lowering of sperm count and mobility in men according to a study published in the International Journal of Andrology.
Other ways STDs Cause Infertility
Those who have experienced some of the more serious STD infections in the past seem to have developed certain antibodies that attack the first proteins produced by the zygote, namely human HSP60.
Some studies have even observed the incidence of sperm-immobilizing antibodies in women with past chlamydia infections. Other studies also observed an autoimmune response to sperm cells in men who had asymptomatic chlamydia infections.
These studies suggest that diseases such as chlamydia or gonorrhea could alter the immune response in some individuals in a way that negatively affects pregnancy outcomes long after the disease was treated.
Is there Something that can be done?
Screening for STDs is important if you want to better your outcomes. Most cases of infertility caused by STDs are a result of untreated infections.
Chronic inflammation of the genital tract can be the major cause of infertility according to an article published in Nature Reviews Urology.
For instance, chlamydia, HPV, hepatitis B and C, and other diseases are known to decrease sperm quality. However, how these diseases affect semen quality remains unclear.
But scientists did observe that early treatment may better the outcomes in some patients.
Do STDs Cause Miscarriage?
Some STDs may negatively affect pregnancy outcomes and lead to miscarriage. For instance, chlamydia may cause ectopic pregnancy in women and lead to tubal infertility later on.
Syphilis can be transmitted from mother to fetus and cause developmental problems for the child or even miscarriage.
Screening before planning a pregnancy and early in pregnancy can help you determine whether you have an STD that could negatively affect your pregnancy or lead to miscarriage.
If you have problems with conception, you may benefit from talking to a physician about your disease history and past sexual experiences.
While early treatment of STDs can prevent negative long-term consequences such as infertility, when there is damage to your reproductive organs, you may have problems with conceiving.
In some cases, tubal surgery may help women whose infertility is a result of damaged tubes. In vitro fertilization is another option for couples trying to conceive.
With today’s treatment options, your chances of conceiving are much higher than previously.
You may Also Like to Read: What Are The Signs Of Gonorrhea Infection In Men And Women?
If you had an STD in your 20s, you may have fertility problems later in life. However, this depends on what disease you had and whether you sought out treatment early on before the disease got severe enough to damage your reproductive organs.
However, some people seem to develop antibodies as a result of STD infections that adversely affect their fertility and pregnancies.
Although these findings are controversial, more studies are needed to confirm if this was truly the case.
Because STDs can negatively affect both male and female reproductive health, it is important to prevent contracting the disease in the first place with condom use and limiting the number of sexual partners.
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