Also see entry for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, AIDS
What They Are
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are the most common STIs. Others include bacterial vaginosis (BV), genital herpes, human papillomavirus infection (HPV), syphilis, and AIDS.
Who Gets Them
Sexually active men and women.
Symptoms vary by infection, and may go unnoticed or be mistaken for the flu
How It Affects Fertility (And Pregnancy)
Chlamydia, a sexually-transmitted bacterial infection, is the most common STD in the U.S., with about three million new cases occurring each year. While it is usually treatable with antibiotics, only about 30 percent of women actually know they have it. There may be no symptoms at all, or the kinds of symptoms–like fever and aches–that can easily be mistaken for something else like the flu. Often, symptoms resolve themselves but the infection remains. A recent Swedish study also showed that chlamydia in men (which rarely causes any symptoms) has a negative effect on sperm.
Gonorrhea, the other major STI, affects about 700,000 people per year and usually causes no symptoms in women. Like chlamydia (which often accompanies gonorrhea), it can result in tubal damage. An additional and serious risk inherent in either of these diseases is the possibility of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a secondary infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and/or cervix; 90 percent of PID infections are initially caused by chlamydia or gonorrhea, and 20 percent of women with PID experience infertility due to scarring of the fallopian tubes. PID is sometimes silent, but often causes lower abdominal pain, fever and vaginal discharge.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be prevented with condom use, and chlamydia is usually screened for during routine gynecological exams. That way, the disease can be detected and treated early, before there is damage to the fallopian tubes. If either STI has caused tubal damage, the tubes can often be repaired with microsurgery. When damage is significant, IVF (in vitro fertilization) may be needed to achieve pregnancy.
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