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SAFER SEX BEFORE PREGNANCY

To protect a woman’s fertility for the future, safer sex practices are mandatory. One episode of chlamydia-induced pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) decreases a woman’s likelihood of becoming pregnant in the future by 20 percent, and each episode of PID makes a repeat episode more likely because of the scarring that occurs.

Unfortunately, many women experimenting with their first sexual experiences in young adulthood are not adequately informed about STDs and how to keep safe. It is young people, and young women in particular, who suffer the brunt of the consequences of the STD epidemic. Young women are more vulnerable to becoming infected with bacterial STDs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia because of the anatomy of the cervix, which makes it more susceptible to infection in adolescence and the twenties than later in adulthood. Even though women may not be thinking about pregnancy at that point in their lives (in fact, they may be trying their best not to get pregnant), what about five or ten or twenty years later? The actions taken by a young woman now could affect her chances of getting pregnant later, when she wants to.

Many women are becoming sexually active at earlier ages but are delaying marriage and childbirth until later—a life choice that leaves them with more time for sexual activity, and more opportunity to acquire a sexually transmitted infection. Education can equip young people with the tools to protect their fertility for later in life, and getting regular STD screens will help to detect most infections early, while they are still treatable and reversible.

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