This is How STDs Can Impact Fertility and Pregnancy

The number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) contracted affects both a person’s fertility and pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over a million people contract an STD every day.

While in most cases, it’s asymptomatic and can be cured, STDs have a direct impact on a woman’s sexual and reproductive health as well as on the child. We spoke with Dr. John Peay to answer the question, “Is it possible to get pregnant after contracting a sexually transmitted disease? Do STDs cause infertility?” The answers require some subtleties.

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How Are Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Transmitted?

Sexually transmitted diseases are commonly spread through vaginal or anal sex, as well as through oral sex. It’s crucial to highlight that STDs can be vertically transmitted from a mother to her child during pregnancy and at the time of birth.

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How Can STDs Affect Pregnancy?

Unfortunately, many STDs are transmitted from the mother to the child during pregnancy and childbirth. These STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, HIV infection, and syphilis, among others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that these infections have been associated with serious pregnancy complications, such as premature rupture of the membranes surrounding the baby in the womb, premature birth, chorioamnionitis, low birth weight, and endometritis.

How Do STDs Affect Fertility?

Female infertility is a significant health problem worldwide. Most cases are due to untreated sexually transmitted diseases that ascend along the reproductive tract, capable of causing inflammation, injuries, and scarring in the fallopian tubes.

We spoke with Dr. John Peay about the most common sexually transmitted diseases and how they affect fertility.

Does Chlamydia Affect My Fertility?

Chlamydia infection is caused by bacteria and can be contracted through vaginal, anal, or oral sex, primarily in women.

It’s also essential to note that there’s a possibility of the infection being transmitted from mother to child during childbirth. If detected

in time, chlamydia is effectively treated with antibiotics. However, if not treated correctly, chlamydia can lead to complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and affect the upper reproductive tract.

This is especially important in young women and can result in ectopic pregnancies, inflammation of the fallopian tubes, and, in some cases, fertility problems.

How Does Hepatitis B Affect Pregnancy?

In cases of chronic Hepatitis B infection in babies, there’s a risk of approximately 25% of chronic liver disease, making monitoring and treatment vital to give babies the best chances.

How Does Syphilis Affect Achieving Pregnancy?

Syphilis, if left untreated, can have effects on pregnancy, such as premature births. However, proper medical care can prevent or treat these problems, offering a much more positive outlook.

How Does Gonorrhea Affect Fertility?

Gonorrhea is one of the most common STDs and can affect both men and women. The bacteria responsible for gonorrhea can cause infections in areas such as the genitals, rectum, and throat.

In the case of gonorrhea, it can be transmitted from mother to child during childbirth. There’s evidence that it could influence the birth weight of babies. This underscores the importance of early detection and treatment, as medical interventions can make a significant difference in the health of both the mother and the baby.

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Does the Human Papillomavirus Affect My Fertility?

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a widely spread sexually transmitted virus. A preventive vaccine is available for both women and men.

Generally, HPV does not cause infertility by itself. However, studies suggest that co-infection with the virus increases the risk of tubal infertility.

In most cases, HPV resolves on its own and has no long-lasting effects on health. However, when it doesn’t disappear, it can lead to precancerous lesions and, in some cases, cervical cancer. An increased risk of spontaneous abortion and premature birth associated with HPV has been observed, but these risks vary depending on the type of HPV contracted.

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How to Prevent and Detect Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

To protect yourself from these infections, the best method is the use of condoms or internal or external condoms (male or female).

It’s essential to remember that timely medical attention and interventions play a crucial role in protecting both the mother and the baby. Proper medical information and support can help ensure a healthier pregnancy and a positive start to life for the baby.

Assisted Reproduction After an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease)

For couples who want to have a baby, STDs can be a significant obstacle. These infections can damage the fallopian tubes and, in severe cases, even affect the uterus.

The fallopian tubes play a crucial role in transporting eggs from the ovaries, and if they become blocked due to previous infections, fertilization becomes complicated as sperm cannot find eggs to form embryos.

Even if the fallopian tubes are partially blocked, and fertilization occurs, damage can prevent the embryo from implanting in the uterus, leading to an ectopic pregnancy, a dangerous condition that requires terminating the pregnancy. In severe cases, pelvic infections can cause scarring in the uterus, resulting in Asherman’s syndrome, making implantation or embryonic development challenging.

In these situations, assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF), are often the best option. When only one fallopian tube is blocked, pregnancy is still possible. Artificial insemination (AI) could also be an alternative.

Preventing STDs is crucial. If you believe an STD or another issue is hindering your fertility, do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you identify and address any problem in the best possible way.