Most people begin their sexual life between the ages of 15 and 25. During this time it is unlikely you’re planning a family. In fact, your family planning largely goes into how to avoid creating babies. However, it is during this time, when we are most naive and carefree about our sexual health, that we should pay the most attention to it in order to side step avoidable health problems when we do settle down and think about having children.
There is a running joke that most people spend their twenties trying not to get pregnant and then spend their thirties desperately trying to get pregnant. The irony is that, whether due to lack of education or embarrassment, most people have little or no understanding about their reproductive systems or sexual health and how it can affect their fertility. These people desperately need sexual health advice.
While not all sexually transmitted infections or diseases lead to infertility, it is important to be aware of the potential consequences. For example, genital warts do not affect your fertility, but chlamydia and gonorrhoea, while they do not affect a man’s fertility, can damage a woman’s fallopian tubes, making it difficult to get pregnant.
Chlamydia is perhaps the biggest problem in the UK, with it being a relatively common sexually transmitted disease. More than 40% of untreated chlamydia infections will result in inflammation of the fallopian tubes. This can cause scarring and could block the fallopian tubes.
Chlamydia is known as the ‘silent’ STD as the symptoms can be subtle, so most people are unaware they have it. The most common symptoms of chlamydia in women are bleeding between periods, abdominal pain and painful periods.
It is imperative, for both women and men who find out they have chlamydia, to contact all previous sexual partners with whom they’ve had unprotected sex and tell them they could also be at risk of chlamydia. It may be embarrassing, but it is fundamental to avoid being responsible for someone else’s future infertility.
While sexually transmitted diseases do not tend to affect a man’s fertility, it is vital that men are as equally vigilant in protecting their sexual health.
Gonorrhea can cause inflammation of the pelvic area, which can result in epididymitis. This can also be responsible for difficulties conceiving. Symptoms include a thick yellow vaginal discharge. Some men may experience no symptoms at all, however a burning sensation while urinating and a thick green or yellow discharge from the penis may occur, as well as painful swelling of the testicles. Gonorrhea can be contracted from anal, oral or vaginal penetration.
There are a wide range of unpleasant sexual diseases that can be transmitted from unprotected sex. Taking responsibility for your sexual health is vital. If you have had unprotected sex visit a sexual health clinic as soon as possible or seek out medical advice.
Infertility can be caused by age, lifestyle or even hereditary genetic diseases. If you do suffer infertility there are a range of options available to help support and inform you.