Signs of infertility | Do STDs cause infertility?
Signs of infertility | Do STDs cause infertility?
Are there signs of infertility? Can a sexually transmitted infection lead to difficulties with getting pregnant? Let’s talk about the ways that your sexual health can affect your fertility.
Signs of infertility can be difficult to identify, because often there are no symptoms at all or signs of infertility will not be noticed until you try to conceive.
On top of that, oftentimes, the signs of infertility can mirror other health conditions that are not strictly related to infertility.
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after 12 months or longer of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. 9% of reproductive-aged women, including nearly 1.5 million women in the United States, are infertile.
Before we dive into how STDs can lead to infertility, let’s go through some of the common signs and/or symptoms of infertility in both men and women.
Signs of infertility in women
The most common symptom of infertility in women is an inability to get pregnant. Some of the other signs of infertility include:
- Irregular periods
- Loss of periods
- Painful periods
- Pain during sex
- Symptoms of hormone fluctuations
- Light or heavy cramping during periods
Remember there are a variety of hormonal conditions in females that may lead to the above symptoms, so if you are experiencing any of the above signs or symptoms, it does not mean that you are infertile.
Signs of infertility in men
- Difficulty with ejaculation
- Small volumes of ejaculation
- Reduced sexual desire or libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pain, swelling or a lump in the testicle area
- Abnormal breast growth (gynecomastia)
- Recurrent respiratory infections
- Inability to smell
- Decreased facial or body hair or other signs of a chromosomal or hormonal abnormality
- A lower than normal sperm count (fewer than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen or a total sperm count of less than 39 million per ejaculate)
Remember there are a variety of hormonal conditions in males that may lead to the above symptoms, so if you are experiencing any of the above signs or symptoms, it does not mean that you are infertile.
Infertility affects both men and women. A third of issues with infertility comes from women, and another third starts with men. The final third may be due to a combination of both, other factors, or unknown causes, according to the Office on Women’s Health.
Do STDs cause infertility?
STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) do not inevitably lead to infertility, but some STDs, if left untreated may lead to complications with conception and/or pregnancy and in some instances, infertility.
It’s important to know that most sexually transmitted diseases, if caught early, are very treatable and do not require invasive treatment.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common causes of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility in women.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs. It most often occurs when sexually transmitted bacteria spread from your vagina to your uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries.
PID is often a silent condition, if left untreated it can lead to scarring and permanent damage of the fallopian tubes, uterus and surrounding tissues. Pelvic inflammatory disorder affects 4.4% of women, or 4.5 million women in the United States according to the latest data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In men, chlamydia is the most common STD to affect fertility potential. Chlamydia may affect fertility potential by damaging the DNA of the sperm. A recent study found that: “Men with chlamydia have more than three times the normal level of DNA fragmentation in their sperm, report researchers. However, results from the study also indicate that appropriate antibiotic treatment can help restore the genetic integrity of these men’s sperm as well as their fertility.”
Sexually transmitted diseases that affect the reproductive organs can all lead to complications with a couple’s ability to conceive, but your sexual health status isn’t always the cause of such complications.
Infertility is multifaceted meaning that oftentimes there may be a number of different causes that contribute to an inability to become pregnant in one or both parties within a couple. Let’s talk through some of the other causes of infertility in both men and women.
Causes of infertility in women
Ovulation issues are the most common cause of infertility in women.
If there are issues with ovulation, it means that no eggs can be fertilized.
Ovulation problems are often caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (A hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges) or primary ovarian insufficiency (A loss of normal function of the ovaries before the age 40.)
Other causes of infertility in women include:
- Blocked fallopian tubes due to endometriosis, or surgery for an ectopic pregnancy
- Problems with the uterus, including uterine fibroids which are non-cancerous clumps of tissue and muscle on the walls of the uterus.
Causes of infertility in men
Other causes of infertility in men outside of sexually transmitted diseases may include:
- Varicocele: a condition in which the veins on a man’s testicles are too large
- Cystic fibrosis
- Conditions that cause a man to make too little sperm or no sperm at all
- Injury or damage to the reproductive organs, which can affect the movement of sperm
Again, this article is not here to alarm you, it is simply here to inform and encourage regular STD testing.
Where can I get tested for STDs?
What is the treatment for STDs?
What happens if you have an STD?
Quite often, STDs will not have any symptoms until they are more advanced, so primarily, nothing will happen. However, if left untreated, health complications can occur which is why it is so important to regularly get tested.
What are three most common STDs?
In the United States, HPV (Human Papillomavirus), chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common STDs.
Written by Hannah Kingston on March 25, 2020
- Sexually transmitted diseases and infertility - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Infertility - mayoclinic.org
- Male Infertility - mayoclinic.org
- Infertility - womenshealth.gov
- STDs & Infertility - cdc.gov
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - mayoclinic.org
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - cdc.gov
- Chlamydia reduces male fertility by ravaging sperm - newscientist.com