Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexually transmitted infections (or STIs) can have serious affects on your health, plus some can also damage your fertility. In some cases, they remain undiagnosed for years, putting your health at risk without your knowledge.
Sexually transmitted infections are caused by micro-organisms which are passed from one person to another during sexual intercourse and other forms of intimate physical contact, such as oral sex. There are numerous different types of STIs, which cause a range of instant and long-term symptoms, and the infections are normally types of viruses or bacteria. Some of the STIs that are particularly known to affect fertility include Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and Syphilis.
ChlamydiaChlamydia is the most common form of STI in the UK. It is a bacterial infection that is particularly rife in people under 25 years old, affecting about one in 10 people or just under half a million. It often has no symptoms, so can lie dormant and unknown for a long time. This can cause problems, as if untreated it can result in Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and cause fertility problems, particularly infertility in women. In men it can affect the testicles and sperm, as well as affect joints.
Experts believe that up to a third of all IVF treatments – which equates to 5,000 – 10,000 couples - are needed due to the damage caused by Chlamydia. The Chlamydia infection causes problems by damaging the hairs along the fallopian tubes where the egg travels from the ovaries to the womb. The damage can result in scarring, which in turn blocks the tubes. If the tubes are damaged, it’s still possible to get pregnant but as a double whammy, there’s an increased risk of having an ectopic pregnancy.
GonorrhoeaWhen contracted after having unprotected sex with a carrier, this bacterial infection can affect the vagina, urethra, rectum and penis, plus it can affect the mouth through oral sex. Some people experience no symptoms at all and unknowingly carry and pass on the infection, but for others the symptoms are obvious. Women experience a yellow or green vaginal discharge and pain when weeing, whilst men have a similar yellow or green discharge from their penis and also find it painful when weeing. Sometimes it's accompanied by itching and an anal discharge – all rather horrible symptoms.
If the infection isn’t treated and especially if there are no symptoms present, it can pose a risk to the fallopian tubes and reduce fertility.