Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Day: Protect your fertility by preventing STIs – Times Now

Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Day: Protect your fertility by preventing STIs  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images

New Delhi: Sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) cause diseases that can affect ones health significantly. Given its nature, such infections are likely to impact ones reproductive system more than any other part of the body. They comprise a major part of all reproductive tract infections (RTIs) and present a major health challenge that exacerbates existing social and economic problems, especially in developing countries like India. It is important to diagnose such infections early on as failure to do so and treat them at an early stage in women of reproductive age group may result in serious complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, ectopic pregnancy, foetal wastage, genital cancer, as well as neonatal and infant infections. In this article,Dr Gauri Agarwal, Fertility Expert & Founder of Seeds of Innocence & Genestrings Diagnostic Lab, shares insights on how STIs can affect fertility, and what you must do for better reproductive and sexual health.

STIs impact on fertility

It is estimated that each year, about 500 million people across the globe suffer from one of the four major STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. While all these diseases affect both men and women, syphilis is said to affect more men than women.

Chlamydia in women is a source of inflammation or swelling in the fallopian tubes, tending to block them and restricting the fertilised egg travel to the uterus, a condition medically known as tubal infertility. Around one in five women with chlamydia also develop PID and such infection may also affect the endometrial tissue, affecting the chances of the embryo getting implanted, leading to repeated miscarriages and infertility. In men, chlamydia may reduce sperm quality and motility significantly and the symptoms start showing within one to three weeks. On the other hand, gonorrhoea in women can cause substantial tubal damage as it can mimic other medical conditions and remain undetected for a long time while in men, it has telling signs of pus-like penile discharge and painful urination, among others, but if untreated, can affect sperm quality.

A whopping 85 per cent of these infections occur in developing countries in India, about 6 per cent of the adult population suffers from one or the other form of STI or RTI. This means, over 80 million adults in India are at risk of developing fertility disorders only due to lack of awareness and adherence to sexual and reproductive health. Other sexually-transmitted infections that contribute to fertility disorder include bacterial vaginosis (BV), wherein normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is altered due to increase in a certain type of bacteria; genital herpes, caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2); and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that also causes cervical and mouth cancer.

Awareness about sexual and reproductive health and hygiene, as listed below, comprises a few simple steps that can save one from STIs and resultant infertility:

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.

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Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Day: Protect your fertility by preventing STIs - Times Now

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