Pregnancy Planning and Disease
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and often presents no symptoms, especially in women. It’s estimated that 10-40% of all untreated women develop pelvic inflammation.
Chlamydia is often described as a ticking time bomb in regards to fertility because if it goes undetected for a long period of time, the results can be disastrous. It is a bacterial infection which can cause problems for women who become infected before or during pregnancy.
The Royal College of Physicians estimates that chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease and is globally the biggest cause of pelvic inflammatory disease. The most common age group for contracting Chlamydia is 25 and under and what’s even more worrying is that 75% of infected women don’t even know they are infected. This happens because Chlamydia prevents no obvious symptoms; only a small percentage of women report burning when urinating or vaginal discharge. In men, Chlamydia can cause symptoms of urethritis (inflammation of the urethra) such as a burning sensation when passing water.
Test procedures have been developed which enable you to discreetly test for Chlamydia in the privacy of your own home using a home testing kit. If a chlamydia infection goes untreated, it can spread to the higher reproductive organs (uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries) and cause pelvic inflammatory disease or an ectopic pregnancy. An untreated chlamydia infection can also trigger an inflammation of the neck of the uterus, impairing the uterine lining, which results in a duration of infertility. More than 10% of pregnant women are infected with chlamydia. Without treatment, they face an increased chance of miscarriage or of an premature water-break (amniotic fluid surrounding the unborn child). A study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development concludes that pregnant women who are infected with chlamydia are two to three times more likely to experience a miscarriage than those who are uninfected. Chlamydia infections in men can spread to the testicles and the epididymi and greatly reduce the quality of sperm. It is estimated that one in ten men are affected by this, where not only the quality and quantity of the sperm is compromised, but also the sperm’s DNA. When this happens, the sperm has difficulty fertilising the egg. A man infected with chlamydia is also at risk of unknowingly passing on the infection to his partner.
Cyclotest now offers a home testing kit for Chlamydia which can be conducted entirely at home. Everything you need to take the test and get results is included in the kit. There’s no need to mail in messy lab samples or wait for results. The Cyclotest Chlamydia Home Testing Kit delivers results within minutes, so you can get treated as soon as possible. This knowledge is especially useful if you’re currently trying to conceive.
To learn more about Cyclotest’s Chlamydia Home Testing Kit, click here.
To prevent putting your unborn baby at risk with infections such as Chlamydia, we recommend all couples who wish to have a baby undergo the following health check-ups:
- STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) test
- Vaccination status checked and updated
- Smear Test performed by your gynecologist
- Breast Cancer (and other forms of cancer) Exam
- HIV test
- Check medical histories of both partners
Sexually transmitted infections, like Chlamydia can cause infertility. A man suffering from an STD (who may be unaware of it) is at risk of compromising his fertility if his prostate becomes inflamed. He is also putting his partner’s fertility at risk by potentially infecting her. The same applies for a woman carrying an STD infection who may unknowingly infect her partner.
- Itching, sores, tenderness or pain in the vagina
- Abnormal vaginal discharge which has an unusual smell or colour
- Pain when urinating
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Abnormal bleeding
- Lumps or sores in the genital area
- Discharge from the penis
- Sores in the genital area
- Frequent urge to urinate and pain when urinating
- Swollen lymph nodes in the groin area
- Pain in the testicles or in the prostate
STDs often go unnoticed without symptoms, therefore regular examinations are important in order to diagnose and treat the disease as soon as possible before any complications arise. It is especially important to diagnose the disease before becoming pregnant as treating STDs during pregnancy can often be very difficult. The infection could also potentially harm the baby and trigger premature contractions.
Although candida is not a sexually transmitted disease, infections with candida impair cervical mucus samples significantly. Candida infections are often referred to as yeast infections which cause the vagina to burn, itch, and causes discharge to smell. You should consult your doctor if you are trying to conceive and experience a yeast infection because they can make conception more difficult.
Yeast infections develop when the yeast that occurs naturally in our bodies (Candida albicans) becomes too plentiful. An unhealthy growth of Candida albicans may occur if you eat foods with a very high sugar content. To avoid contracting a yeast infection, modify your eating habits by avoiding refined sugar and adding ‘living’ yoghurt (Lacatobacillus acidophilus) to your diet. This kind of yoghurt helps restore the natural balance of intestinal flora in your body.
Yeast infections can prevent you from getting pregnant simply because they cause sex to be painful, which takes away your desire to have sex. Yeast infections can also alter the vaginal environment and have a repelling effect on sperm. It is important that you get a yeast infection treated before or during pregnancy because your baby can become infected during delivery while passing through the birth canal. Candida albicans causes diaper rash and oral thrush in babies, which often causes problems when breast-feeding. The vaginal secretions of pregnant women encourage the growth of yeast, therefore infections are quite common during pregnancy and around one in four women are affected. Men infected with Candida often experience genital itching and discomfort.
Antimycotics are usually used to combat yeast infections because they are very effective and also completely harmless in the period before pregnancy. Although atimycotics are safe, treating the infection naturally is an even better approach. Probiotic food supplements containing the bacteria actobacillus and Bifidobacterium are ideal in warding off yeast infections. Another natural anti-fungal agent is garlic which you should consume when mature as a regular food supplement. To prevent future fungal infections, try to avoid wearing tight-fitting jeans, synthetic underwear, or unnecessary panty-liners. The washing cycles of modern low-temperature washing machines fail to kill off Candida albicans spores completely so you may become re-infected by your own underwear. To combat this, consider pressing the insides of your underwear with a hot iron, increasing the temperature of your washing cycle, or adding a laundry disinfectant to your rinse cycle. It is also a good idea to avoid foods with high sugar contents such as candy, cakes, processed foods, fizzy drinks and alcohol.
Gonorrhoea, also known as ‘the clap’ is a highly infectious STD. Unprotected sex with an infected person results in contracting the infection in 90% of cases! Twice as many men as women are infected with the disease. Like chlaymida, gonorrhoea can also go undetected because it often presents no symptoms. If untreated, pelvic inflammatory disease may ensue, which causes the Fallopian tubes to close. This compromises fertility and increases the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. For women, gonorrhoea can cause unpleasant vaginal discharge, pelvic pains, and discomfort when urinating. Men may also experience symptoms such as discharge, a high temperature, and pain when urinating.
Gonorrhoea is treated with antibiotics. Although the disease is becoming increasingly rare, you and your partner should get tested and if necessary, receive treatment.
Antibiotics taken to treat an infection destroy harmful bacteria in the body but can also wipe out beneficial bacteria. This subjects your body to fungal infections such as yeast infections. To avoid these complications, you should consume a pro-biotic food supplement with different strains of beneficial bacteria for three months during your antibiotic treatment. You should avoid probiotic drinks because they often contain lots of sugar and end up aiding the fungus in the body.