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STD & Other Infections

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are passed from one person to another via sexual activity. It is an infectious disease that spreads through sexual contact or contact with body fluids.

In some STIs, the affected individual shows no signs or symptoms at all. Although it is asymptomatic (free of symptoms), there is a risk of passing the infection. Most STIs increase the risk of infertility in the affected individual and the sexual partner.

What are the STDs and their symptoms?




Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) 

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a bacterial infection of the vagina. Usually, the vagina contains many “good” bacteria and a few “bad” bacteria. The good ones maintain a safe balance inside the vagina. BV happens when that balance is disturbed. It usually fades away on its own in some days. However, it may also bring about symptoms and need antibiotics.

No signs are seen in half of the females. However, some may experience white, grey or yellow color discharge with a fishy odor, particularly after sexual contact.


Chlamydia is a common STI caused by bacteria named Chlamydia trachomatis. This infection spreads easily by sexual contact, often causes no signs or symptoms in females and may get transferred to the sexual partners.

About 70 to 80% of females and 50% of males present with no symptoms. Females may present with:

·        pain while urinating

·        lower abdominal pain

·        abnormal vaginal discharge

·        heavy periods

·        bleeding between periods

·        pain and/or bleeding during sexual intercourse

·        bleeding after intercourse


If left untreated, it may cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), resulting in infertility.

Genital Herpes

Herpes is a contagious viral condition caused by Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV).

Few individuals might have no symptoms; others develop symptoms within a few days after the intercourse.


Symptoms may include:

Tiny red, aching blisters or open sore. Generally, the infection occurs in the skin and mucous membrane of the genitals and rectum but may also arise in the mouth, largely in the lips.

The sores and blisters may  be followed by flu-like symptoms.


This bacterial infection is caused by Neisseria gonorrhea. This bacterium grows rapidly in moist, warm regions of the body like the urethra, cervix, rectum, or mouth.

Males with symptoms may have:

·        Abnormal discharge from the penis

·        Anal irritation, uneasiness, bleeding, or discharge

·        Repeated and painful urination

·        Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) (rare)

·        A sore throat (rare)

Females with symptoms may have:

·        Painful frequent urination

·        Fever and fatigue

·        Anal irritation, uneasiness, bleeding, or discharge

·        Genital itch

·        Abnormal periods

·        Abnormal vaginal discharge

·        Lower abdominal pain

·        Painful sexual intercourse

·        Inflamed and painful glands at the opening of the vagina (Bartholin glands)

·        A sore throat (rare)

·        Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) (rare)

 If left untreated, it may bring about Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), resulting in infertility.

Pubic lice

Pubic lice are small parasites (2mm long) that reside in body hair like pubic hair. They are yellow-grey and have a crab-like look.


Symptoms may include:

·        Irritation/itch in the affected areas

·        Sky-blue color spots (which vanish within a few days) or tiny blood specks on the skin

Hepatitis B

It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Hepatitis-B has two possible phases: 1) acute and 2) chronic.

Infection may transfer via infected blood transfusion or exposure to body fluids like semen, vaginal secretions and open sore.

Symptoms may include:

·        Low-grade fever

·        Fatigue and weakness

·        Nausea and vomiting

·        Yellowish skin and eyes

·        Dark urine



The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) destroys white blood cells that fight infections and thus weaken the immunity. HIV infection leads to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The virus spreads via unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected individual. Also, it can spread by sharing needles or via contact with the blood of an infected individual.

Symptoms may include:

·        Expanded lymph nodes

·        Fatigue

·        Prolonged fevers

·        Night sweats

·        Extended cough

·        Headaches

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)     

HPV usually vanishes on its own and does not bring about any health problems. But when HPV fails to disappear, few subtypes can bring about cancers and genital warts.

Women with signs may have:

·        Tiny and painless bumps (warts) in the anal or genital areas

·        HPV may also bring about cervical and other cancers such as cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus


It is a bacterial infection caused by bacteria Treponema pallidum. It gets transferred from individual to individual by direct contact with a syphilitic sore, called a chancre.

Chancres arise mostly on the external genitals, anus, vagina, or rectum. Syphilis gets transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.


Symptoms can be:

·        Headaches and muscle aches

·        Fatigue

·        Fever

·        Sore throat

·        Non-prickly skin rash on the hands and feet


It is caused by infection with a protozoan parasite named Trichomonas vaginalis.

Symptoms may include:

·        Pain during intercourse

·        Yellow-green or greyish discharge

·        Offensive vaginal odor

·        Discomfort during urination

·        Itching in the genital region

Can STDs cause infertility?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can spread into a woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). A PID can lead to infertility. STIs can be passed from mother to child.

How can these STDs get diagnosed?

Testing procedures (or screening) for STI may include:

  • Physical pelvic examination for detecting the signs of infection such as abnormal vaginal discharge, warts, or rashes.
  • Urine Samples
  • Blood Tests
  • Fluid sample: A swab can be used for collecting a sample to be assessed under a microscope. It is then sent to a laboratory for culture.

How are they treated?

The treatment options are usually based on the type and the severity of STI. It will generally require antibiotics either topical, oral or as an injection.

The Takeaway

Most sexually transmitted infections, if not diagnosed and treated in time, will cause infertility. There is a variety of infections that can be sexually transmitted and some of these can be without symptoms making timely diagnosis difficult and therefore risk of infertility high. Some of these conditions will require patients to undergo assisted conception treatments.

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