Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two types of preventable bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that, if left untreated, can lead to infertility. Chlamydia is often a silent infection, showing no symptoms. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 10-15% of women with untreated chlamydia will develop pelvic inflammatory disease. Chlamydia is also responsible for over 40% of fallopian tube infections that may present with no symptoms. Gonorrhea can cause a painful or burning sensation with urination and vaginal discharge, although it can also be asymptomatic. Gonorrhea, if left untreated, may also cause tubal damage and scar tissue.
It is estimated that 2.86 million cases of chlamydia and 820,000 cases of gonorrhea occur every year in the United States. In 2013, women ages 20-24 had the highest rate of infection compared with any other age or sex group (3,621.1 cases per 100,000 females for chlamydia and 541.6 cases per 100,000 females for gonorrhea). These two infections are preventable with the use of a condom, although this is not 100% effective. The CDC recommends that women of age 25 or younger be tested annually, as well as older women with risk factors including a new or multiple sexual partners, or a partner who has an STI.
All egg donors are screened for these diseases during their initial medical evaluation and/or just before their cycle begins. If the test comes out positive, donors are disqualified from donating for 12 months.
These two STIs are treatable, and early detection is critical in preventing any fertility problems down the road. If you and your partner are considering pregnancy, regular STI checkups and open discussions will help prevent STIs and any fertility issues that could result.