A healthy reproductive system is vital for optimal fertility and overall health. Both men and women need to be aware of the possible diseases of the reproductive system and the effects these diseases could have on not only their health, but their partner’s health as well. It is pertinent that both sexes get tested regularly for diseases that could potentially threaten their fertility and their lives.
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The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that connects the womb to the vagina. The National Institutes of Health reports that cervical cancer is usually caused by the sexually transmitted organism HPV, or human papillomavirus, and is detected by Pap tests.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located in front of a male’s rectum and under his bladder that produces approximately 30 percent of the seminal fluid a man releases during ejaculation. Prostate cancer develops when cells within the prostate gland grow erratically and create minuscule tumors. Prostate cancer is considered a slow-growing cancer that normally takes years to detect. Prostate expert Dr. Patrick Walsh of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions recommends a yearly PSA test that determines how much protein the prostate is producing, a rising number may mean cancer, and a yearly rectal examination.
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that causes infertility in both men and women. Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and does not create symptoms in all who become infected. Chlamydia is diagnosed through either a urine or genital secretion sample.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. If gonorrhea is not immediately treated, it may rapidly spread throughout the reproductive tract and could cause pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, in women, a condition that may lead to infertility. In men, gonorrhea may lead to epididymitis, a disease that may also cause infertility.
Endometriosis occurs when tissues resembling the lining of the uterus are found in other places of the body, including the fallopian tubes, the rectal-vaginal septum and the bladder. Because these tissues should only be located in the uterus, endometriosis sufferers experience intense pelvic pain that is not related to their menstrual cycles, and they may not be able to conceive children.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease brought on by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Like chlaymidia, syphilis sufferers may not experience symptoms of the disease until it is too late. Left untreated, syphilis will advance throughout its three stages—primary, secondary and late—with a wide array of differing symptoms which may ultimately cause infertility and even death. Syphilis is diagnosed through blood tests and biopsies of affected areas.