What Complications Do STDs Cause During Fertility & Pregnancy?
Contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is certainly a scary experience.
Not only do you have fear and anxiety about the challenges that may arise, but planning for the future can also be hard to discern. This is especially the case when fertility and pregnancy are affected by an STD.
Although you may feel overwhelmed about the situation, trust that you do have options available to you. With the right insight and information, you can still have the family of your dreams despite living with an STD and you can likely overcome fertility challenges that may arise.
Which STDs/STIs Affect Fertility & Pregnancy?
Below is a rundown of which STDs and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) affect fertility and pregnancy:
HIV/AIDS is a disease that affects the immune system of the host. Complications for pregnancy and fertility include high fetal mortality rates, lower sperm production in males, increased odds of sterility, and a decline in sexual intercourse, which contributes to infertility.
For men, herpes affects fertility by lowering sperm count and decreasing the odds of achieving pregnancy with a partner. However, herpes does not cause infertility in men altogether. For women, the biggest challenge is lowering the risk of spreading the herpes virus to the fetus during pregnancy and birth. For instance, if a woman contracts herpes before getting pregnant or immediately after, the odds of the fetus getting the virus is less than 1%. If a woman contracts herpes in the middle of pregnancy, the chance of infection spikes between 30%-50%. That being said, a cesarean section (C-section) is a viable option to avoid spreading this condition to the fetus at birth.
Although it's highly contagious, Gonorrhea can be hard to diagnose in men and women since symptoms may not show up immediately. That being said, issues that affect pregnancy and fertility include increased chances of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in women, ectopic pregnancies, infertility, and long-lasting pelvic pain. In addition, Gonorrhea may lead to increased chances of miscarriage, premature births, and severe eye infections when the baby is led through vaginal delivery.
Similar to the challenges of Gonorrhea, Chlamydia can affect male and female partners. However, the brunt of the issues is targeted at women. Primarily, Chlamydia can do excessive damage to a woman's reproductive organs. This means that the infection can spread throughout the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing serious challenges like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). For men, the issues aren't as harsh, but their sperm cells can experience severe genetic damage, which may lead to infertility.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a condition that surface cells around the oral and genital parts of the skin. Fortunately, the virus doesn't typically cause infertility and many people with HPV are still able to conceive normally. However, HPV can increase a woman's odds of getting cervical cancer, which may cause infertility. For men, sperm infected with HPV can increase the chances of miscarriage.
Hepatitis B (HBV) is an infection that spreads throughout the bloodstream, but those infected can be glad to know that a vaccine is available for HBV that's 95% effective. However, if a vaccine isn't readily available, both men and women are likely to experience impaired fertility from the infection. In fact, those with HBV are 1.59X more likely to experience infertility than those without it. For men, the effects mostly occur in lower sperm motility and fertilization rates. For women, HBV causes higher rates of tubal and uterine infertility.
Dealing with STDs can certainly be a challenge, but your next step to finding a solution is to work with your doctor to pursue treatment options.
Based on what your doctor recommends, you can take active measures to ensure that your pregnancy is healthy and produces the best odds for success. After taking precautions and undergoing any necessary treatment options, you can work with your doctor or a fertility specialist to develop an individualized plan to ensure success. At Kofinas Fertility Group, our experienced team can advise you on what steps to take so that you can enjoy a healthy pregnancy, rather than worrying about the outcome.
Along with practicing safe sex and taking active measures to maintain your health and well-being, feel free to contact Kofinas Fertility Group today for an appointment to discuss your options and develop a plan that's right for you.