Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Shuvani Sanyal, MD
It’s STD Awareness Month!
Today’s myth: ‘When left untreated STDs can cause infertility’ and why that’s so true!
We’re implementing The STI Project’s month-long myth busting series: So True, So False! Yeah, we think we’re as cool as E! Promoting awareness, education, and acceptance doesn’t always have to be super-serious.
Really, though, these myths often perpetuate big problems, because they keep people from getting tested, talking to partners, practicing safer-sex, and all around being conscientious about their sexual health. So, this is kinda serious stuff too!
For our ‘So True, So False’ series, we’re doing the research and debunking some of the common myths we hear all of the time about STDs, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
When Left Untreated STDs Can Cause Infertility
This post isn’t meant to scare you – despite how unnerving the title may sound.
At The STI Project, we don’t believe in using shame or scare tactics to promote sexual health and STD education.
Due to the nature of STDs in general, sometimes, some of what we write about is shocking or troubling. We do our best not to sugar-coat those facts.
Sexually transmitted infections and diseases – especially those left untreated – can cause serious and very scary issues for people.
That’s why education is so important. Catching STDs early – via frequent testing – ensures the sometimes very harmful consequences of sexually transmitted infections don’t happen to you.
Fertility problems are fairly common with untreated STDs.
Although the outcome may sound extreme, infertility or fertility issues arise as a result of an untreated STD fairly often. Upwards of 15% of all infertility cases in women and 12% in men are the result of an untreated STD… When conception is successful, complications such as inflammation of the fallopian tubes or tubal pregnancies may occur as well.
The STDs to worry about? The biggest offenders are bacterial STDs.
They are often asymptomatic – all STDs frequently present no symptoms at all – so, people don’t know they are infected. When they don’t have symptoms, they don’t get tested, and the infection begins to damage the male and female reproductive systems.
It can take months or years for someone to notice the symptoms (if they ever have any) from the internal damage being caused by an STD, and often times, it’s too late.
Even though the infection can be treated and cured when it’s bacterial, the damage that’s been done can not be reversed.
In extreme cases, chronic pain can persist, and surgery might be necessary, but the results of the untreated STD, such as scarring of the pelvic organs will remain.
How to Protect Yourself
Because all STDs, and especially bacterial STDs can remain asymptomatic for years, the only way to know that you do not have an infection is to get tested.
If you are sexually active, get tested before and after each new partner – or at a minimum, once per year.
Although, this practice may seem a bit cumbersome right now, finding out about an infection right away will greatly reduce your risk of fertility complications.
When left untreated STDs can cause infertility, so knowing you have an STD and getting it treated as soon as possible is the best way to avoid those outcomes.
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Have you heard this before? How did you learn about this myth and what was your opinion before reading this post? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!