STDs (or STIs) and Infertility
Most women with a regular cycle release an egg from one of the ovaries in the middle of the cycle. The egg then has to travel down the Fallopian Tube to get to the womb. Fertilisation with a sperm would normally happen in the tube following which the fertilised egg, now an embryo, will implant in the womb lining. For around 20% of women, the Fallopian Tubes may be damaged making it difficult to conceive. This may be because of scarring from previous pelvic surgery, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or sterilisation. Tubal patency can be checked by HyCoSy and your fertility options explained by our doctors.
Chlamydia and Infertility
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the upper female genital tract, which includes the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries. It is often the result of a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). PID can damage and scar the fallopian tubes, making it virtually impossible for an egg to travel down into the womb. The most common STI in the UK is Chlamydia. In women, it can cause urine symptoms such as pain or burning, a vaginal discharge, pain in the lower abdomen during or after sex, and bleeding during or after sex or between periods. For a majority of women, the infection is asymptomatic. It can be diagnosed with the help of a urine test or by taking a swab of the affected area. The infection is easily treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can lead to PID and some serious problems such as infertility, persistent pelvic pain and an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy (where a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb).
Gonorrhoea and Infertility
Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial STI in the UK. About 50% of women with the infection are asymptomatic. Symptoms and diagnosis are similar to that of Chlamydia, although the vaginal discharge can often be watery, yellow or green. The infection is easily treated with antibiotics, but can lead to serious long-term health problems, including infertility, if left untreated.
Other common STIs such as genital warts and genital herpes are virally transmitted and have not been shown to affect fertility.
STIs and Male Infertility
In men, chlamydia can cause pain or a burning sensation when urinating, a white, cloudy or watery discharge from the tip of the penis, and pain or tenderness in the testicles. Gonorrhoea causes similar symptoms although the discharge can be white, yellow or green. Both the infections are diagnosed using a urine test or by taking a swab of the affected area and can be treated using antibiotics. The infection can cause scarring in the male reproductive system or impair sperm function. The sperm function can be checked easily with the help of a Semen Analysis.