Sexually transmitted diseases may cause health problems later on
With school back in full swing, college students are busy with academics, sports and campus life.
There is also another issue that warrants students’ attention – sexually transmitted diseases. Nearly 20 million new sexually transmitted infections occur each year in the U.S., and 50 percent of these infections are among individuals 15 to 24 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Think beyond the moment,” says Dr. Nasir Rana, reproductive endocrinologist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “Sexually transmitted diseases can present a significant threat to a woman’s fertility, now and in the future. These are most prevalent in women 25 years old and under.”
Chlamydia, as well as gonorrhea, two of the most common STDs, can cause tubal disease, which is a common cause of infertility.
“The risk of tubal damage caused by chlamydia and gonorrhea can result in loss of or diminished fertility and ectopic pregnancy,” says Dr. Rana. “Other STDs can also have a negative impact on fertility as well.”
Depending upon the severity of the tubal disease, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) might be needed in order to conceive. In addition, a recent study indicated that women with chlamydia have a significantly lower chance of conceiving even when the Fallopian tubes appear normal on imaging tests.
Almost 3 million cases of chlamydia and 1 million cases of gonorrhea occur each year in the U.S. In the case of chlamydia, it doesn’t have any symptoms, despite the fact that damage is being done to the reproductive system.
Reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists can perform blood tests to more accurately determine if an STD is present. Physicians recommend yearly testing for those women under the age of 25, or older women who are at a higher risk due to multiple partners and/or one who is affected by an STD. The earlier the diagnosis, the more likely the chance of preventing reproductive damage, says Dr. Rana.
The risk of contracting an STD can be lessened by minimizing the number of sexual partners, as well as through the use of latex condoms.
“There are certainly things that women can do to be proactive in preserving their future fertility,” says Dr. Rana. “Protecting from STDs is one of those ways.”
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