A serious sign of possibly advanced infection in women is pelvic pain. Untreated STDs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, even if they do not show symptoms, can infect a woman’s reproductive organs such as the uterus and the fallopian tubes. This type of infection is called pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. PID can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes and damage to other female reproductive organs. This can have serious, permanent consequences. Ten to fifteen percent of women who develop PID may become infertile. PID can be treated with antibiotics. Early treatment lessens the chances of future health problems.
Trauma to the fallopian tubes also greatly increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy. In this serious condition a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, usually within the fallopian tube itself. Because it is in the wrong place there is no way for this pregnancy to result in healthy baby. If it is not removed the embryo will rupture the fallopian tube as it grows. This is very painful and can lead to severe internal bleeding and death. It is also very sad and distressing for a woman to learn that she is pregnant and then to find out that her pregnancy cannot result in a child. Ectopic pregnancies must be aborted for the health and safety of the mother. The majority of ectopic pregnancies result from damage related to untreated STDs.
Untreated STDs have many other serious consequences for women. HPV, the virus that causes genital warts, is the leading cause of cervical cancer. This form of cancer kills many thousands of women worldwide every year. Because of this it is recommended that all girls be vaccinated against HPV before they become sexually active.
When considering STDs in women, the most important thing to remember is that many women do not show any signs or symptoms of infection. Even serious conditions such as PID can develop without women realizing anything is wrong. Since the consequences of STDs in women can be so severe it is particularly important that all sexually active women get regularly tested usin STD kit for at home testing. Through early detection and treatment, women can avoid serious lifelong problems with their reproductive health.