A delayed or untreated sexually transmitted infection (STI) could be one of the causes of damage to both female and male reproductive systems.
Especially gonorrhea and Chlamydia as the most common STIs as well as being a largely symptomless disease, it can often go undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated. If persistent Chlamydia infection left untreated, women are at risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This is a serious condition involving inflammation of the upper female genital tract and supporting structures. It causes various complications including chronic pelvic pain, increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and tubal factor infertility (TFI), which is a significant cause of infertility. The extent to which Chlamydia infection impacts on male fertility is still uncertain. Chlamydia can cause inflammation of the epididymis, testes and accessory glands which can ultimately damage sperm. In men, fertility problems are usually the result of reduced semen characteristics (e.g. low numbers or poor quality of sperm).
Biological changes caused by HIV, including systemic illnesses, stress, and weight loss, may affect the function of reproductive organs and result in infertility. Newly diagnosed HIV infection may cause psychological trauma and decrease in sexual drive and sexual activity. Hypogonadism especially in men with AIDS is one of the important endocrine disorders that causes infertility.
Chronic viral hepatitis B and C can cause impairment in sperm concentration, motility, morphology, and viability, whereas HPV primarily affects sperm motility. The semen has been associated with decreased sperm concentration and reduced motility. In HIV-infected women, chronic HPV infection increases the risk of cervical cancer development and possibly leads to infertility.
Infections in the mother may impact both maternal and fetal health and transmission may occur during pregnancy, delivery and in the post-partum period, therefore the risks of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures must be considered in pregnant women. HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B serologies are normally done during pre-natal visits, whereas those for Chlamydia and gonorrhea are often neglected. In addition, even if these serologies are performed, pregnant women are often not told about the results due to negligence or disorganization of the health system.