Recently I got chlamydia. When I went to the doctor she said it could make me infertile. This was a big shock. I know lots of friends that have had STIs, but I’ve never heard that it could stop me from having babies. Should I be worried?
Dear Reader, Just because you have had a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as chlamydia, does not unilaterally rule out your future as a mother. But it is a real risk so it’s important that you have the facts.
Your doctor was referring to the fact that many STIs, if not treated, can lead to infertility. Chlamydia is one example. If untreated, about 10-20% of women with chlamydia will develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an infection in the upper genital tract. PID can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues, all parts of your reproductive system essential for pregnancy. Gonorrhea is another example of an STI that if untreated, can lead to PID, and infertility. This does not mean that if you develop PID, you will never have a child, but it can make getting pregnant very difficult and can interfere with their future ability to have a child.
So, what can you do to protect yourself and your future?
Get tested. Many doctors will recommend that you get tested for common STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HPV every six months or every time you change a sexual partner. The CDC recommends routine screening for STIs, if you are a sexually active women younger than 25 years, or an older women with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection. Many STIs have no symptoms so you could have one and be spreading it without knowing. To protect yourself and others, best to get tested if you have any doubt.
Here is a link to find testing centers in your area.
- Finish your medication and treatments. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are bacterial infections and are treated with antibiotics. But the antibiotics only work if you take them, so fill that prescription and take the entire dose, even when you start to feel better. Just taking a few pills or stopping medication too early will cause drug resistant “super bugs” that will be harder to treat in the future.
Practice safe sex. Using condoms is your best fight against an STI. And this goes for vaginal, anal and oral sex. Gonorrhea has been linked to throat cancer that is spread through oral sex. Anytime fluids are exchanged in sexual activities, an infection can be spread. There are no exceptions.
A special note to SuzyKnew! readers:
We know that young people account for a huge proportion of new STI infections- 63% of new chlamydia infections and a whopping 70% of new gonorrhea infections. Teens tend to feel invincible and most are not able to grasp the consequences of having unprotected sex. They are just learning about how to negotiate relationships. And they have fewer doctors’ visits than people that are both younger and older than them. For these reasons, the most important thing we can do for the young people in our lives is to speak to them about the impotence of safe sex.
Maybe this consequence of infection can be used in safe sex campaigns? What a scary result that you don’t think about as a teenager.