Can Infection Affect Fertility and Conception?


Generally, infections anywhere in the reproductive organs of both males and females can/may affect fertility and delay or prevent conception. Statistically, about 35% of women with an infertility problem are affected with tubal / ovarian function following poorly or untreated sexually transmitted infections.

Salpingitis, which is an infection and inflammation in the Fallopian tubes occurs in an estimated 15% of reproductive-age women, and out of these women about 2.5% will become infertile as a result of this infection by age 35. Some of these infections can be deadly because in most cases, especially infections caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis, there are no clear signs and symptoms and this can affect the actual percentage of women with genital tract infections.

In addition, some infections with symptoms, and few without symptoms, may also contribute to chronic inflammation of the womb, which leads to alterations in reproductive tract secretions and hormone production which by extension will lead to interference with the normal function of the egg and the sperm in fertilization. Infection is also a major factor in male infertility, and is second only to oligospermia (low sperm count).

Today, unfortunately, the impact of infections and its complications on human reproduction continues to increase as a consequence of sexual promiscuity and the popularity of non-barrier methods of contraception. C. trachomatis and gonorrheal infections, are the most common causes of infections in the fallopian tubes, which ultimately results in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Other bacterial infections, like bacterial vaginosis, Trichomonas vaginalis, and Candida albicans, and some fungal can cause reproductive tract infections. Currently, although gonorrheal infections have been on the decline in the last decade, chlamydial infections of the male and female genital tract continue to be an increasing problem in infertility. Generally, C. trachomatis is the major cause of tubal factor infertility in women. Women are twice as likely as men to acquire gonorrhea or Chlamydia during a single act of unprotected intercourse with an infected partner.

Sadly, many newly acquired infections in women have no symptoms and so, these women do not seek medical intervention and continue to pass the infections to their sexual partners. An estimated 10% to 20% of untreated women with endocervical gonorrhea or chlamydial infection eventually develop Pelvic Inflammatory disease. So, here is the deal, if you are planning to have a baby, you must adopt a safe and careful sexual habit. You MUST practice safe sex.

There is hope for reducing the number of infertility related to infections, and this solely lies in prevention and early detection and treatment of newly acquired asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infections in both males and females. Please be aware and preach prevention always, avoid high-risk sexual behavior and if you must engage in sex, practice mandatory use of condoms.

Furthermore, inasmuch as the greater part of infections in the reproductive tracts come from sexual intercourse, infertility may also follow bloodborne infections such as tuberculosis, infections of other pelvic organs, inflammatory complications of surgical trauma / wound, also following illegal abortion, infections can occur leading to infertility, and also from poorly managed appendix infection.

Dr. Chudi Ufondu


Global Library of Women’s Medicine