Due to the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, it is important for all of us to be aware of our own sexual health. However, if you are having difficulty becoming pregnant it is especially important to continuously monitor your sexual health. Infertility can sometimes be the result of ongoing sexually transmitted infections or diseases. If you plan on trying to become pregnant, get tested for sexually transmitted diseases regularly, in order to prevent further fertility troubles or the spread of the disease.
What are Sexually Transmitted Diseases(STDs)?
Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that are passed from person to person through sexual contact. Many STDs can cause a host of unpleasant side effects, ranging from genital itching to painful intercourse. Some STDs are very serious and can be life-threatening. Thousands of people are infected with STDs every year, with the highest rate of infections occuring in young men and women between the ages of 15 and 25.
Transmission of STDs
STDs are typically transmitted through sexual intercourse. However, some STDs can be transmitted through other types of sexual contact, or through contact with bodily fluids. Modes of transmission include:
- vaginal intercourse
- anal intercourse
- oral intercourse
- sexual petting, including mutual masturbation
- contact with lesions or broken skin
- contact with infected bodily fluids including semen, blood, or urine
- sharing unprotected sex toys
- sharing intravenous needles
Types of STDs
There are many different types of STDs. Signs of STDs differ depending upo the type you are infected with. STDs include:
- Genital warts
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Pubic lice
Since the discovery of STDs, people have been perpetuating all sorts of myths about their transmission and symptoms. These myths arise for many reasons. In some societies there are stigmas surrounding contraction, leading to myths about who can get them and who can't. Other myths arise out of a lack of information being disseminated about these illnesses. Here are some myths that you might be familiar with.
- You must have sexual intercourse to get an STD
- Certain people can't get STDs
- If you are clean and well-groomed, you can't get an STD
- You can easily tell if someone has an STD
- STDs are easily treatable
It is important to realize that these myths are false. Anyone can catch an STD, no matter where they live or what they look like. And you can't always tell if someone has an STD, because symptoms are often invisible. This is why it is important to educate yourself about STDs and to always follow safe sex practices.
STDs and Infertility
Some STDs can have serious effects on your reproductive system, especially if you leave them untreated. Unfortunately, because many STDs cause only minor symptoms, many infected men and women do not get the necessary treatment. As a result, a large number of people suffer the effects of STD-induced infertility.
The majority of men who are infected with an STD exhibit symptoms soon after infection. This means that, on the whole, most men do seek treatment in time to prevent any damage to their infertility. However, this is not always the case. Every year, 500 000 men develop epididymitis as a result of STD infection. Epididymitis causes inflammation in the one of the vessels which transports semen from the testicles. Epididymitis can result in the complete blockage of these vessels, causing male infertility.
Many women who contract STDs do not develop visible STD symptoms, and, as a result, are more likely not to seek prompt treatment. This can be a major cause of infertility. Some unaddressed STDs can cause an infection of the reproductive organs. Known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), this infection can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes making pregnancy difficult.
It is important to take all the necessary steps to help protect yourself from contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Here are some important tips to follow:
- Always engage in protected sexual intercourse.
- Get tested for STDs regularly by your health care provider.
- Talk with your sexual partners about their sexual health and past sexual activities.