STDs and Fertility
I'd Forgotten About That
The days of wild parties and hanging out with the crowd are far behind, many of them forgotten. You're in a committed relationship with someone you love and now you want to have a baby together. Only you're having problems getting pregnant. When you go to the doctor he tells you he wants to do some blood work to check for STDs, sexually transmitted diseases. You're sure you don't have anything like that - surely you would know if you did. And besides, all of those sexual flings were so long ago.
STDs and PID
As a matter of fact, most of the bacterial STDs, the ones which cause the problems that lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), don't have symptoms and often go untreated until they are discovered by a pap smear or blood work. The two most common STDs which lead to PID are Chlamydia and gonorrhea. Both are bacterial infections which are contracted through oral, vaginal or anal sex. Left untreated, STDs can progress quickly to serious reproductive issues and other health concerns, both short and long-term. The bacteria can spread into the uterus fallopian tubes causing PID which, in turn, can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus and surrounding tissues.
What Is PID?
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is inflammation of the upper reproductive tract of a woman, including the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries with the most common manifestation being salpingitis, the inflammation of the fallopian tubes. It is known that PID is a long-term consequence of many STDs as well as bacterial vaginosis, pelvic surgery and other procedures which cross the cervix. Pelvic inflammatory disease is a preventable condition. Essentially, PID is the body overreacting to infection. The immune system, as it fights off infection, causes inflammations and scarring which may successfully wall off the fallopian tubes. Thus, an egg can leave the ovary but gets trapped in the fallopian tube, unable to go down into the uterus because of scar tissue. Sometimes the scarring does not totally block the fallopian tube and the egg becomes fertilized by sperm that was able to get through. The fertilized egg is trapped and an ectopic pregnancy is the result - pregnancy outside of the uterus. This condition is potentially life threatening and at best, emotionally devastating to a woman who is trying to conceive.
PID is one of the leading causes of ectopic pregnancies and preventable infertility in women. The relationship between Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and infertility is well documented and the treatment and prevention of PID are major steps in reducing infertility in women of all ages.