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STDs and Infertility

If a pregnant woman contracts chlamydia, the infection can cause serious complications like premature labor or miscarriage. Babies who are exposed to the bacteria in the birth canal during delivery may be born with pneumonia or an eye infection called conjunctivitis, both of which can be very dangerous if not treated right away.

While we know for sure that chlamydia can cause significant damage to a woman's reproductive system, there is not enough scientific evidence to know whether chlamydia causes fertility problems or other long-term consequences in men.

Gonorrhea

One STD that is known to affect the reproductive tissue in both men and women is gonorrhea. While the number of people in the U.S. with gonorrhea has steadily declined since the mid-1970s, more than 300,000 new cases of the disease still occur every year.

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can be contracted during oral, anal or genital sexual contact. Symptoms may include burning or pain during urination, and a thick, yellowish discharge from the penis or vagina. Unfortunately, like chlamydia, gonorrhea can exhibit no symptoms at all.

Without treatment, gonorrhea may lead to PID in women and cause infertility, among other things. In both sexes, it can spread to the circulatory system and infect the heart, liver, joints and tendons. Gonorrhea can also cause fertility problems in men.

Every year, 500,000 men develop epididymitis as a result of STD infections like gonorrhea. Epididymitis is a painful condition of the testicles which causes inflammation in the one of the vessels which transports semen. If left untreated, it can cause complete blockage of these vessels, resulting in male infertility. Unfortunately, many women with STDs do not develop any noticeable symptoms. As a result, they are less likely to seek the treatment they need, leaving them susceptible to the often devastating effects of STD-related infertility.

How to protect yourself against STDs

Abstaining from sex is the only 100 percent sure way to protect yourself from STDs, but when you're trying to get pregnant, abstinence is not an option! Below is a list of steps you can take to protect yourself from STDs.

  • Mutual monogamy - If you and your partner are thinking of starting a family, you probably already have a close relationship with each other. It is important that you know each other well and feel as though you can trust each other. Being faithful, meaning neither person is having sex with anyone else, is a great way to protect yourself from an STD.

  • Talk about it - You should also be aware of your partner's sexual history. Your risk of contracting an STD increases with the number of sexual partners you and your partner have had in the past. Get tested for STDs and share your results with each other.

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