Audrey1, a 22 year old young woman came to the clinic for Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) testing because she recently heard rumors that a previous sexual partner of hers had an infection of “some type”. She had not been experiencing any symptoms of an infection, but thought getting tested, “just to be sure” would be a good idea. Specimens were collected for testing and sent off to the lab. A week later she came back for her result appointment and to her surprise learned that her tests came back positive for chlamydia and gonorrhea. “Wow, I am shocked! It’s a good thing I came in, isn’t it?”
Gonorrhea and chlamydia are often called the “silent” STIs because they can be present without causing any noticeable symptoms, yet while untreated they can actually wreak havoc on the reproductive systems of women and even sometimes men.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that in 2016, there were 2.86 million cases of chlamydia and 820,000 cases of gonorrhea2. Most women infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea have no symptoms. Though both infections are easily treated with antibiotics, gonorrhea is showing resistance to antibiotic therapy and is presenting a challenge for treatment. Both infections, if left untreated, migrate from the cervix up into the uterus, fallopian tubes and surrounding tissues. This migration of infection can often lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Infections in these areas can lead to the formation of scar tissue which can easily block the delicate and narrow fallopian tubes, a common cause of infertility. Additionally, one in ten pregnancies after an experience of PID lodge in the fallopian tube (ectopic pregnancy). Women who are infected with gonorrhea or chlamydia are at a higher risk of reinfection, therefore putting them at a higher risk of developing further episodes of PID, each time reducing fertility.
Audrey asks about infertility. “How will I know if this infection has caused me to become infertile?” There’s no way to know if any damage has occurred without doing very expensive, invasive tests. The best case scenario is that her infections were caught early and treated before they could cause any scar tissue. What is crucial for Audrey to understand is the more partners she has, the greater her risk for reinfection and complications from infections that lead to infertility. The CDC recommends annual screening for gonorrhea and chlamydia for all sexually active women under the age of 25, as well as older women who have new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.
Clarity Testing Clinic specializes in the testing and treatment of STIs. In addition to excellent medical care, our medical professionals provide a listening ear and positive guidance to those in need of STI testing and treatment. Patients are made aware of the possibilities available to them and helped to find a path that doesn’t lead back to the testing clinic. Make an appointment today by visiting our Appointment Page or calling 812-418-3230.
- A fictitious patient who represents a common scenario faced at Clarity Testing Clinic.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (10/06/2017). STDs & Infertility, Retrieved 06/15/2018, from cdc.gov: https://www.cdc.gov/std/infertility/