STIs on the rise – Fertility Coalition warns of fertility risk

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Last updated September 2013

MEDIA RELEASE – EMBARGOED UNTIL 7AM SUNDAY 1 SEPTEMBER
STIs on the rise – Fertility Coalition warns of fertility risk
In the wake of the Australian Government’s strategy to tackle the rising incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the Fertility Coalition has warned young people that some STIs can cause infertility if left untreated.
In Fertility Week, 2–8 September, the Fertility Coalition is launching an animation aimed at young people, urging them to use a condom when having sex, as some STIs can cause fertility problems.
The animation is the latest in a series produced by the Fertility Coalition as part of the Your Fertility project which aims to inform Australians about the key factors that affect their ability to conceive and have healthy children. The Fertility Coalition is the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA), Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Andrology Australia and the Robinson Institute of the University of Adelaide.
From 2001–2011 there was an alarming rise in chlamydia diagnoses among Australian young people, with the annual number of reported diagnoses more than tripling. Chlamydia, a bacterial infection, can cause infertility if left untreated but is often asymptomatic. Females aged 15 –19 had the highest rates of diagnosis in 2011, with 2300 per 100,000 diagnosed with chlamydia. For men, the 20–24 age group had the highest rate of diagnosis, with more than 1420 per 100,000 being diagnosed. Overall, diagnoses for men and women aged 15–29 accounted for 82% of chlamydia diagnoses.

Like chlamydia, the bacterial infection gonorrhoea can infect reproductive organs, can be asymptomatic and if left untreated, can cause infertility in men and women. Gonorrhoea rates have also increased but unlike chlamydia, more men than women were diagnosed in 2011: 8056 men and 3789 women. Men aged 20-24 had the highest diagnosis rate.

The Your Fertility STIs animation features four characters in situations that involve making choices like going to get a haircut and deciding between two pairs of shoes. The point? Some decisions can be easily reversed. Other decisions – like not using a condom – can’t be unmade. STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea can affect fertility if left untreated but often people don’t know they have these infections. So the decision to not use a condom can have serious and permanent consequences.

Your Fertility spokesperson Louise Johnson said the Fertility Coalition would be working with health organisations to incorporate the animation into reproductive health education programs for young people.
‘The new Your Fertility STIs animation takes a light-hearted approach but the message is serious: use a condom because some STIs can cause fertility problems,” Your Fertility spokesperson Louise Johnson said.
View the ‘Fertility Factors: sexually transmitted infections’ animation at www.yourfertility.org.au