HomeInfertilityCan sexually transmitted disease cause infertility? Health experts spill facts

Can sexually transmitted disease cause infertility? Health experts spill facts


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Infertility has become a global public health concern, with nearly 20% of the reproductive-aged couples affected by it. According to American research on STDs, Women, and Infertility, “Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), namely, gonorrhea and chlamydia, may be associated with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and can cause damage to a woman’s fallopian tubes.” 

One in five women is estimated to become infertile due to pelvic inflammatory diseases (PIDs). STDs or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are usually passed from one person to another through sexual intercourse or intimate physical contact (oral, anal, and vaginal sex). 

These infections spread through blood, semen, vaginal, and other body fluids. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), About 10-15% of women with untreated chlamydia will develop PID. 

This common issue of PID is progressively increasing in India, especially in the urban sector. This article explores the facts split by the health experts on the possible causes, symptoms, and prevention methodologies of STIs.

What is STI Infertility?

An STI or STD infertility is also known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PIDs are the complicated condition or stage of the sexually transmitted disease where the internal reproductive organs, especially the fallopian tubes, get infected, causing chronic health issues, infertility, and even death. 

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) commonly develops due to bacteria, such as Neisseria gonorrhoea and Chlamydia trachomatis that cause sexually transmitted disease (STD). Generally, the cervix acts as a barrier, preventing the entry of these infectious microorganisms into the internal reproductive tract. But, during certain medical conditions, the cervix gets contaminated and becomes vulnerable, allowing the STD-causing pathogens to enter. Thus, causing an infection of the inner reproductive tract and PID. 

The infected fallopian tubes lead to excessive scarring and blockage, restricting the movement of gametes and leading to infertility. The symptoms of these infections may be mild but, if left untreated, can lead to acute life-threatening health conditions.     

What are the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases to look out for?

The signs and symptoms of the pelvic inflammatory disease often are mild and difficult to identify. Sometimes, women experience no symptoms or signs. Here is a list of noticeable signs and symptoms of STD-initiated PID you need to keep track of. 

  • Mild to severe pain in the vaginal region or the lower abdominal region,
  • Heavy and usual vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odour,
  • Abnormal bleeding from the vagina mostly after an intercourse 
  • Bleeding between periods,
  • Unusual soreness in the vaginal region,
  • Pain during intercourse,
  • Fever higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit accompanied by chills,
  • Painful and frequent urination,
  • Difficulty while urinating, 
  • Nausea and vomiting.

You will need to check with your doctor and get an assessment of your reproductive anatomy if you are experiencing one or more of the PID symptoms mentioned above. 

What causes Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Neisseria gonorrhoea and Chlamydia trachomatis are two common strains of bacteria that can potentially cause sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea and chlamydia. Physical intimacy with people infected with these STD-causing microorganisms can lead to PID. Women or men having multiple sex partners are at a higher risk of having and transmitting STIs. 

In rare cases, the bacteria infects the reproductive tract during the insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD) or any medical procedure involving the uterine insertion of instruments.

However, not limited to chlamydia or gonorrhoea, PIDs can be due to other STDs that are caused by different bacterial strains like Streptococcus agalactiae, and Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Mycoplasma hominis, Ureaplasma urealyticum, and many others. The diverse causes of PID spread from the vagina and infect the cervix and the fallopian tubes of highly reproductive women aged between 15 to 25 years. 

It is also observed that women below the age of 25 are more likely to develop PID than those over 25 years. The reason is that the cervix of young girls below 25 is not completely prepared to fight STDs that eventually cause PID. 

But, according to the CDC, “Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are important preventable causes of PID and infertility.” 

What are the potential solutions to prevent and treat PID causing infertility?

Experts believe “The most effective way of preventing PID is to protect against STIs by using a barrier method of contraception such as a male or female condom and to get regular sexual health check-ups.” 

It is of utmost importance not to ignore even the mildest symptoms of PID and get a thorough diagnosis. Diagnosis of a PID includes a detailed investigation of medical history, urine tests, blood analysis, physical examination, ultrasound, laparoscopy, and biopsy of the endometrial tissues. 

Early and prompt treatment can help alleviate PID symptoms and eliminate infections. PID infections caused by chlamydia or gonorrhoea are highly curable through,

  • Medications and antibiotics
  • Medically treating the partner to prevent infection recurrence. 

As a precaution, if you have a medical history of a PID or an STD, you must get yourself tested regularly, especially when involved sexually with multiple partners. Remember, early detection of PID can prevent severe outcomes. Other prevention measures include:

  • Regular STD testing for women below the age of 25 (especially in women having multiple or new sex partners),
  • Practicing safe sex (use of high-quality, safe condoms), 
  • And STD checking in pregnant women.

Symptoms such as a usual sore, excess vaginal discharge, foul-smelling discharge, intermenstrual bleeding, and chronic lower abdominal pain indicate an STI. An untreated STI can, in turn, lead to PID and infertility. Do not take these symptoms casually, refrain from having sex and seek immediate medical treatment.


STDs are sexually transmitted infections commonly caused by bacteria N. gonorrhoea and C. trachomatis. The STD spreads into the upper reproductive tract causing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) that can potentially cause infertility. Early diagnosis is essential to treat PID and prevent possible complications and chronic conditions of PID. 

During treatment, it is necessary to avoid any kind of sexual activity till the infection subsides or symptoms recede. And since PID is treatable and preventable, talk to your doctor if you observe PID symptoms, and get treated at the earliest. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can PID be cured?

Yes, PID is highly curable if diagnosed early. Treatment involves medications and antibiotics to clear the infection and harmful microorganisms. However, if PID is left untreated, it can lead to further complications, including infertility.  

How long does it take to heal from a PID?

Antibiotics and medications to subdue PID symptoms are potential treatment options for PID. It may take two to three wells to eliminate the infections causing PID. 

Does PID mean an STD?

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a chronic condition or state of sexually transmitted disease (PID) like chlamydia and gonorrhea, where the STI occur in the upper reproductive tract, affecting the fallopian tubes. PID can be one of the reasons for infertility in women.  

Pooja N Swamy (M.Sc Biomedical Sciences)
Pooja Holds Master's Degree in Biomedical Sciences from Vellore Institute of Technology. She believes in strong research and clear understanding over the subject. Always determined and focussed with a thirst to learn new things. Hardworking, flexible and grounded to align with the goals.


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