Sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) can have a significant impact on your fertility, yet many can easily go undiagnosed.  Be sure to find out if you may be at risk. Below are the most common STD’s, signs, symptoms and ways to ensure you are not affected.

Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea

Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea are the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STI’s).  For some women, these infections can present with

  • pain or burning on urination or during sex
  • abnormal discharge and/or spotting between periods.

However these conditions are often referred to as ‘silent’ infections, as they most often present with no symptoms. The lack of symptoms means that these infections are commonly left untreated. Untreated chlamydia and gonorrhoea can lead to the more serious condition known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID may also present with few, if any symptoms, yet can permanently damage the uterus and fallopian tubes. This can impair or block the passage of the egg and sperm, reducing or eliminating the chances of fertilization.

Men are also at risk of chlamydia and gonorrhea. They too may display with few or no symptoms. If symptoms do present, they include pain

  • redness or swelling around the tip of the penis
  • unusual discharge and pain on urinating

If left untreated, these infections can lead to epididymitis, which can damage sperm motility, function and sperm count.

Prevention and early diagnosis are the best ways to prevent these infections impairing your fertility. Both are effectively treated by seeing your GP. Most specialists and GP’s will screen for these infections as part of your pregnancy preparation.

 

HIV

The HIV virus currently has no cure. It can impair fertility and can be passed on to the baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding. For couples affected by HIV wanting to have children, there are assisted reproductive technologies (ART) that can help minimise the transmission of the virus.

 

Syphillus

Syphillus is a bacteria infection that presents in three stages. Syphillus can cause fertility and pregnancy complications in all three stages including miscarriage and still birth. Syphillus is effectively treated with antibiotics, the early the better to prevent any permanent damage.

Primary stage

The first stage of syphillus can often be overlooked. The sores that present are small firm bumps that appear at the site where the syphillus entered your body. They can look similar to an ingrown hair, are painless and so are often deemed harmless. They may disappear on their own after 3 – 6 weeks however treatment must still be received to prevent the disease moving to the next stage.

Secondary stage

If the disease progresses to stage two you may experience skin rashes and/or sores in you mouth, vagina or anal passage and can spread to other parts of your body. The rash will appear as red or brown spots. They won’t generally be itchy and may be so faint that they may go unnoticed. Symptoms may progress to fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, hair loss, head aches, weight loss, muscle aches and fatigue. These symptoms may resolve with or without treatment. However without treatment the disease may progress to the latent and late stage.

Latent and late stage

The latent stage occurs when symptoms have resolved but the disease lies dormant. If left untreated there is a risk of developing late stage syhillus 10 – 30 years after the original infection. Late stage syphillus can be life threatening.

 

Mycoplasma genitalium

Is an increasingly common bacteria infection which has been particularly linked to female infertility.1 2. Many women and men present with no symptoms. If symptoms occur, they include pelvic pain, vaginal discharge, spotting between periods and pain on urination. Men may also experience pain on urination as well as unusual discharge and inflammation.

 

Prevention is the best cure. Engaging in safe sex practices is the best way to avoid STI’s. If you believe you may have an STI, speak with your GP as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can reduce the risk of fertility and pregnancy related complications.

You can also find more details at Your Fertility

The Fertility Diet