Are Rising STDs Contributing To Infertility In India?


According to recent data from the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), the most common STDs in India include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS

According to recent data from the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), the most common STDs in India include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS

Dr Aashita Jain, Consultant and Centre Head, Birla Fertility & IVF, Surat shares her perspective on whether rising STDs are contributing to infertility in India or not

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), almost 1 million people worldwide contract STDs. In India, around 6% of the adult population is infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) every year.

According to recent data from the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), the most common STDs in India include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS. Recently, experts have pointed out the increase in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the country.

In addition to this, experts have also stressed the link between this increase in STDs and rising infertility in the country.

Understanding STDs and their prevalence in India

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are the source of sexually transmitted illnesses (STDs). They are mostly spread through sexual contact. Viruses, bacteria, or parasites are the causes of STIs. A sexually transmitted infection can spread through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, or the vagina. STDs are a major health concern in the country, with infections like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and HIV being the most common. According to the National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), millions of new STD cases are reported annually in India, highlighting the need to create more awareness around the same.

Link Between STDs and Infertility

Both male and female reproductive health can be compromised by untreated STDs, leading to infertility. In addition to causing issues with reproduction, STDs can also make it difficult to conceive. If an underlying STD is found and treated early on, this issue can be dealt with. Consequently, the importance of STD screening has increased to preserve reproductive health.

STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea are notorious for causing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women. PID is a severe infection of the female reproductive organs, including the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. It can lead to scarring and blockages in the fallopian tubes, preventing the egg from travelling to the uterus for fertilization.  STDs can also have a profound impact on male fertility. Infections can lead to epididymitis, an inflammation of the ducts that carry sperm. This can cause blockages or impair sperm quality, leading to reduced fertility. Additionally, STDs can cause inflammation and damage to the prostate and testicles, further affecting sperm production and function.

Overall, the inflammatory response triggered by STDs in both women and men can result in structural changes, scarring, and impaired reproductive function, ultimately affecting fertility. 

Factors contributing to the rise in STDs in India

  • Inadequate awareness: A lot of people lack awareness around sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), how they spread, and what happens when they do. Open dialogue and education on sexual health are frequently obstructed by cultural taboos and stigmas surrounding the topic.
  • Insufficient sexual health services: Early detection and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases are hampered by limited access to healthcare, especially in rural areas. Moreover, there are frequently not enough STD testing and treatment options available.
  • Unsafe sexual practices: There is a comparatively low prevalence of contraception, particularly condom use, in India, which increases the risk of STD transmission.
  • Factors such as limited access to contraceptives, poverty, and gender inequality, also exacerbate the spread of STDs.

Prevention and treatment

  • Education and Awareness: To raise public awareness of safe sexual practices, STD prevention, and the value of early diagnosis and treatment, comprehensive programmes should be put in place.
  • Improving access to healthcare: It is significant to increase the availability of sexual health services, such as STD testing and treatment, particularly in underprivileged communities. The long-term effects of STDs can be decreased, and prompt intervention can be ensured with the help of accessible and affordable healthcare.
  • Promoting safe sexual practices: condom use and other preventive measures can help to lower the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The public health initiative should focus on normalising the use of condoms.
  • Encourage regular tests: Regular tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) help in the early detection and treatment of infections and avert consequences such as infertility.

Overall, comprehensive sex education is a critical tool for promoting sexual and reproductive health, challenging cultural taboos and stigma, and empowering individuals to make informed choices about their bodies and relationships. By integrating sex education into school curricula and community-based programs, India can work towards creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for sexual health and well-being.


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