Worried about your fertility? Then heads up--sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that go untreated eventually can lead to infertility.
According to MyPregnancyGuide.com, the bad news is some STDs have no noticeable symptoms for some women. That means they may not even realize they have an STD until it is too late.
CNN reported that Dr. John Douglas, director of the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) Division of STD Prevention, called infertility a "down-the-road concern" for many teens. He and other doctors worry about sexually active teenagers and young adults who may be unaware that some STDs may doom their chances of having a baby later in life. He went on to say it is a growing reality for nearly two million women in the United States who are infertile.
High on the list of STDs that can lead to infertility are chlamydia and gonorrhea. In fact, the CDC recommends an annual chlamydia screening for all sexually active females 25 and under and for women older than 25 with risk factors such as a new sex partner or multiple partners.
According to WebMD, two out of five women infected with chlamydia will go on to develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is a complication that arises from chlamydia and gonorrhea. Forty percent of women who are not treated for their STD will develop it. PID means infertility 20 percent of the time.
Dr. Yolanda Wimberly, an adolescent medicine specialist with Grady Health Systems in Atlanta, Ga., told CNN that PID can damage the reproductive organs by creating scarring and inflammation in the fallopian tubes.
A Wall Street Journal article reported that even when a woman no longer tests positive for an active infection, the chlamydia bacteria may have moved into her upper genital tract and still set off pelvic inflammatory disease. The inflammation and scar tissue that is caused by pelvic inflammatory disease often block a woman’s fallopian tubes, preventing fertilization.
Gonorrhea and genital herpes can also cause scarring in the fallopian tubes and in turn prevent a woman from conceiving.
"It can happen to anyone. It does not discriminate," Wimberly said to CNN, referring to both the chances of contracting an STD and the potential for infertility.
This is why STD screenings are so important. Women who get regular STD screenings can help catch a sexually transmitted disease that might otherwise go unnoticed and untreated for years.
Not only are screenings important in the effort to slow the spread of the STDs, they also can help women and their fertility.
Reviewed June 23, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton