One of the many reasons it's so important to get tested for STDs is that some have no symptoms but can make you infertile. Chlamydia and gonorrhea, for example, which are very common, can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
PID even sounds painful -- your pelvis should never be described as "inflamed." But when bacteria manage to make it past your cervix and crawl right up into your reproductive organs, that's what happens.
These bacteria can scar the fallopian tubes, making it impossible (or nearly so) for egg and sperm to meet. Even more dangerous, an egg can get fertilized and then completely stuck in the fallopian tube instead of making it to the uterus. The uterus expands to accommodate a growing fetus -- the fallopian tubes simply are not made to do the same and can rupture. This misplaced pregnancy is called an ectopic pregnancy, and it can kill a woman.
The best way to treat PID is as it's happening, and with antibiotics. Unfortunately, once damage is done, it's done, and it can't be fixed.
Want to know more about infertility? Visit the links and resources below.
- Boston Women's Health Book Collective. "Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era." Touchstone. 2005. (April 24, 2011)
- Boyles, Salynn. "Clomiphene Best for PCOS Infertility." WebMD. Feb. 7, 2007. (April 25, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20070207/clomiphene-best-for-pcos-infertility
- CBS News. "Sperm: 15 Crazy Things You Should Know." (April 22, 2011)http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-204_162-10004933.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) - CDC Fact Sheet." March 25, 2011. (April 24, 2011)http://www.cdc.gov/std/pid/stdfact-pid.htm
- Cornell University. "Varicocele." Department of Urology. (April 24, 2011)http://www.cornellurology.com/infertility/gi/varicocele.shtml
- Mayo Clinic. "Healthy sperm: Improving your fertility." Dec. 16, 2010. (April 24, 2011)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fertility/MC00023
- Mayo Clinic. "Infertility." June 27, 2009. (April 22, 2011)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/infertility/DS00310/DSECTION=causes
- National Women's Health Resource Center. "Androgen." March 12, 2009. (April 22, 2011)http://www.healthywomen.org/condition/androgen
- Nippoldt, Todd B. "Abnormal sperm morphology: What does it mean?" Mayo Clinic. March 26, 2010. (April 24, 2011)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sperm-morphology/AN01305
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)." April 2008. (April 23, 2011)http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/upload/PCOS_booklet.pdf
- WebMD. "Endometrial Biopsy." Feb. 10, 2010. (April 24, 2011)http://women.webmd.com/endometrial-biopsy
- WebMD. "Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)." Jan. 23, 2010. (April 24, 2011)http://women.webmd.com/tc/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos-topic-overview
- WebMD. "Varicocele repair for infertility." March 21, 2008. (April 22, 2011)http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/varicocele-repair-for-infertility
HowStuffWorks looks at whether women dealing with fertility issues are more likely to conceive naturally after they adopt or get pregnant with IVF.