Many STIs do not cause any symptoms for a long time. So you may not know that you have an infection. This means that you may damage your own long term health and fertility, but also pass on the infection to a new partner.
These long term risks include:
Infertility (in both men and women)
- Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea are the most common preventable causes of infertility in the world. These infections (and others) can also increase the risk of a difficult pregnancy, miscarriage and early delivery of your baby.
Increased Risk of Cancer (in both men and women)
- HPV is one of the major causes of cervical cancer in women. HPV has also been linked to other cancers in the: anus, vulva, vagina, penis, mouth, throat and oropharynx.
- Gonorrhoea infections in men have been linked to an increase in Prostate Cancer.
Increased Risk of Other Infections, Especially HIV (in both men and women)
- Having one STI makes you more prone to contracting another STI, including HIV. This is because you are more vulnerable to another infection in the genital area. People who have one STI are two to five times more likely than uninfected people to get HIV if they are exposed to the virus through unprotected sexual contact.
Increased Risk of Mother to Child Transmission during Pregnancy and Death or Disability to Your Baby
STIs can directly lead to several problems with newborns babies. These include:
- Brain damage including mental retardation or death.
- Miscarriage, early birth and associated problems.
- Eye infections which can lead to blindness
- Problems with normal development: including deformities, delays and seizures.