Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are remarkably common: each year in the United States, there are about 3 million new cases of chlamydia, a bacterial infection, and 700,000 cases of gonorrhea.
Many women have no symptoms at all, or the kinds of symptoms—such as fever and aches—that can easily be chalked up to something else, like the flu. What’s more, symptoms may simply resolve on their own. But if left untreated, STDs can be a fertility hazard. In women, these diseases can cause fallopian tube damage or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a secondary infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or cervix. Ninety percent of PID infections are initially caused by chlamydia or gonorrhea, and 20 percent of women with PID experience infertility due to scarring. Surgery can usually remove the scar tissue and clear the path to pregnancy; when it can’t, pregnancy can often be achieved with IVF.
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