Few people realize how common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among men and women of reproductive age, yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 20 million new STDs occur each year. Some STDs can increase susceptibility to infection by other diseases, including HIV. They can also increase risk for pregnancy and birth complications.
One disconcerting fact that echoes a need for awareness is that some STDs can lead to infertility or cancer if left untreated. Bacteria found in bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea can spread to the cervix, uterus, and fallopian tubes causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID causes inflammation and scar tissue to develop which can inhibit ovulation or lead to ectopic pregnancies. Each year in the United States, approximately 750,000 women are diagnosed with PID, and up to 15% of these women experience infertility.