How to look after your sexual health and to protect your fertility
Looking after your sexual health is as important as looking after any aspect of your general health and wellbeing. Whether you are trying to get pregnant now or hoping to in the future, sexual health can play a huge factor in why you may be unable to conceive.
In fact, a quarter of all infertility cases are thought to be caused by an STI - something that many people are unaware of.
Dr Raj Mathur, Consultant Gynaecologist and Clinical Lead for Reproductive Medicine at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, gives his advice on how best to look after your sexual health in order to protect your fertility, ahead of his seminar at The Fertility Show.
1. Get check-ups for STIs, especially if you have a new sexual partner – It is incredibly important to get regular check-ups as chlamydia and gonorrhoea have no symptoms at all. The quicker they are detected and treated, the less damage they will do to your reproductive organs. It might also mean that you are inadvertently infecting your partner and impacting their fertility as well.
2. If you have a history of STIs, you may have more trouble conceiving – If you’ve been exposed to an STI in the past, your risk of contracting another is high. Even if you’ve never been diagnosed with chlamydia, you still might have contracted it at some point in the past. Untreated damage from an STI to your fallopian tubes increases your risk of ectopic pregnancy. Speak to your doctor if this is the case and they will be able to tell you what to look out for.
3. Be aware of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – Contracting an STI may be difficult to talk about but leaving it untreated could lead to the development of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). It's estimated that one in five women with PID have fertility problems. PID is a serious condition as it can permanently damage the uterus and fallopian tubes. If PID is mild and treated early, your chances of conceiving are still relatively high. However, if you have severe PID or it goes untreated, the chances of your tubes becoming blocked is highly likely.
4. Make sure your partner has been tested - Chlamydia in men can damage sperm and cause scarring in the reproductive tract, leading to permanent infertility. It is estimated around 25 - 50% of all male chlamydia cases go completely unnoticed.
5. Attend regular smear tests – Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35. Having a regular smear test tells women whether they've got pre-cancerous cells that could turn into a tumour. Attending a screening can prevent a staggering 75% of cervical cancers from developing. If you are diagnosed with cervical cancer, speak to your doctor who will be able to advise you on the best way to preserve your fertility, such as egg freezing.
Hear Dr Raj Mathur speak on Saturday 24th March at The Fertility Show Manchester on the topic of Improving the odds of IVF working for you.
The Fertility Show Manchester takes place at Manchester Central Convention Complex on 24th & 25th March 2018.
With over 50 exhibitors, 30 topical seminars with speakers including doctors, clinicians and fertility experts, and a dedicated Q&A stage where you can ask all your questions (in person or anonymously), visitors will have the opportunity to get all the fertility information and support they need, at one time, under one roof.
The Show is hosted in association with Fertility Network UK.
Visit www.fertilityshow.co.uk/manchester for further information and tickets.