Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs. However, this disease can also spread to other parts of the body, leading to various complications. One common concern among individuals diagnosed with tuberculosis is whether it can cause infertility.
According to WHO Global TB Report 2022, over 21.4 Lakh TB cases were notified in India in 2021, which is 18% higher than the previous year 2020.
In this article, we will explore the relationship between tuberculosis and infertility, examining the impact of the disease on both men and women. Let's delve into this topic and shed light on the potential effects of tuberculosis on fertility.
Now, you might be wondering, what does TB have to do with fertility? Well, let me break it down for you.
First things first, what exactly is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing tiny droplets containing the bacteria. When these droplets are inhaled by others, they can become infected with tuberculosis. It primarily affects the lungs, leading to symptoms like a persistent cough, chest pain, and weight loss. While the disease primarily affects the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis), it can also target other organs and tissues (extrapulmonary tuberculosis).
When TB is left untreated, it can spread and infects the reproductive organs too, which can mess with fertility. And Yes, Tuberculosis can affect both male and female fertility.
Let's start with men. TB can cause a condition called epididymitis, which is when the epididymis, a tube that carries sperm, gets inflamed. This inflammation can lead to blockage or scarring, making it difficult for sperm to travel from the testes to the urethra. And if the sperm can't get out, well, it's tough to make a baby. It is important to note that epididymal TB is relatively uncommon, and most cases of TB do not directly affect the male reproductive system.
Now, let's talk about women. When TB affects the female reproductive organs, it can cause something called genital tuberculosis. This mainly affects the fallopian tubes and the uterus. The infection can lead to tubal blockage, adhesions, or scarring, which can make it hard for the egg to travel through the fallopian tubes or for the embryo to implant in the uterus. When that happens, getting pregnant becomes quite challenging.
TB primarily affects the lungs, so the most common symptoms you'll hear about are coughing (sometimes with blood), chest pain, and weight loss. But when it comes to fertility, we need to focus on the symptoms related to the reproductive organs. Below are symptoms that you had to look out for:
If you're male and TB is affecting your fertility, you might experience pain or swelling in your testicles. Ouch! That's definitely not something you want to ignore. It's important to get this checked out by a doctor who specializes in fertility issues to determine if TB is the cause.
Ladies, if TB is affecting your fertility, you might experience irregular menstrual cycles. Your periods may become unpredictable, showing up at unexpected times or disappearing altogether. Additionally, you might have pelvic pain that just won't quit. It's not the regular cramps that come and go with your monthly cycle - this pain is persistent and can make you uncomfortable.
Here's the good news: TB is treatable, and with proper treatment, fertility can be preserved or restored. The treatment usually involves taking a combination of antibiotics for a few months to kill off the bacteria, often six months or longer. It's important to complete the entire course of tuberculosis treatment as prescribed by your fertility specialist to ensure that TB is fully eradicated.
Diagnosing tuberculosis requires specialized testing, including a series of tests, including a pelvic examination, ultrasound, hysterosalpingography (HSG), or laparoscopy, blood tests, chest X-rays, and cultures of bodily fluids, etc.
If you suspect that TB might be affecting your fertility, don't worry too much. Seek medical help, get diagnosed, and start treatment as soon as possible. Book your appointment with the best fertility specialist in Mumbai - Dr. Nandita Palshetkar, who understands the challenges TB can pose to your dream of having a baby'. She can guide you through the process and offer personalized treatment options to improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Remember, early diagnosis and proper treatment are key to overcoming these challenges and achieving your dream of starting a family. Book your free consultation now!