Most STDs do not show any obvious symptoms, because of which they go undiagnosed until the condition worsens or even leads to infertility, warns Shivani Gour
The problem of infertility is increasing across all social classes in India. This is due to prolonged studies, career related delay, open society with youngsters opting for one night stands and multiple partners. This allows a lot of opportunities for sexually transmitted disease (STD) as an important cause of infertility. Infections that are passed from one human to another during unprotected sexual intercourse are called STDs.
They can occur following vaginal, anal, oral or any other form of sex. Other routes of infection spread include sharing IV needles, from mother to child – intrauterine, during childbirth or breastfeeding. Almost 3/4th of sexually active people will contract some type of infection during their lifetime. This is more common in young people in their teens and twenties.
Many organisms are sexually transmitted. So it is essential for youngsters to be aware of STDs. Not only HIV/AIDs, but also the innocuous ones like chlamydia that can silently destroy the reproductive system. Since majority of these infections are asymptomatic, it is essential for sexually active people to go for STD screening regularly and get treatment if needed to prevent future infertility problems.
But not all STDs affect fertility. The four common ones causing infertility are Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, and Trichomoniasis.
Often a combination of these causes the pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This means an infection travelling from vagina upwards to the uterus and fallopian tubes following a vaginal intercourse with an infected partner. The primary bacteria responsible are chlamydia and gonorrhoea. When undiagnosed or left untreated, this progresses to PID – involving the ovaries, tubes and peritoneum of pelvis. More than one million cases of PIDs occur and of which about hundred thousand can become infertile. Since, PID relatively remains asymptomatic in a vast majority of patients, it often goes undiagnosed.
Identify these infections:
This infection affects the fallopian tubes, causing them to swell and scar and block the tubes. Men are also affected. The infection spreads from the urethra to testicles and can cause permanent damage.
This is another common STD that cause inflammation of fallopian tubes. This is a flagellate, which is picked up in smears and is difficult to culture. It produces a greenish yellow purulent discharge.
This causes abnormal bleeding, yellow or blood stained vaginal discharge (vaginitis), PID, and in males it can cause epididymitis.
This infection may start with a skin lesion which is firm, painless, and non-itchy skin ulceration with a clean base and sharp borders. It can turn into a macule or papule at later stages. The lymph nodes around the infected area too enlarge in about ten days from the appearance of the lesion.
n Use of condoms lowers the risk of transmission
n Watch for the signs and symptoms of STDs
n Get tested with change in sexual
n Maintain genital hygiene at all times
(The writer is an IVF specialist)