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Tuberculosis and infertility

Tuesday, November 22nd 2016. | Tuberculosis and Infertility


Tuberculosis is one of the oldest diseases impacting southeast Asian countries including India and Bangladesh, where the bacteria is very rampant.

Female genital tuberculosis is fast emerging as a major health issue that affects fertility levels in women. Detection and treatment of genital tuberculosis remains a challenge.Pelvic Tuberculosis

While secondary or pulmonary tuberculosis, which first attacks lungs and then shift to other parts of the body, is comparatively easier to detect, primary infection of the disease hitting genital organs often at an advanced stage is not identified at all.

There is an increasing trend of genital tuberculosis among women. Genital tuberculosis is a major cause of infection leading to infertility among 25-30% of women in India. The infection can attack the ovaries, uterus and tubes leading to infertility problems among women.

Tuberculosis infection is often serious as it can damage the complete Fallopian tube making it difficult for females to conceive. It can lead to hydro-salpingitis. If not detected at an early stage, it can lead to severe complications.

30% of women with any kind of tuberculosis develop genital tuberculosis out of which 5 to 10 percent develop hydro salpingitis, where water enters the tube, leading to infertility.

The disease is also becoming more evident among men causing infertility. Even among men, who are responsible in 50% of infertility cases, tuberculosis is a major reason for infection.

Diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis is a major challenge. There is very little known and even less available. Fertility chances are poorer in women suffering from tuberculosis if they are not treated appropriately and adequately.

Low detection rate for the disease among women as well as men is attributed to several reasons. While dearth of infrastructure, policy and tools to diagnose the disease is a major hurdle, social stigma attached to the disease is also a significant reason of concern.

Over 10 lakh cases are not notified at all. Most symptoms will disappear within a few weeks of treatment and there is a tendency for patients to stop treatment. Incomplete treatment can end up becoming a drug resistant case which may not only be lethal to the patient, but also be a health hazard to the community.

According to health ministry data, 170 new cases of tuberculosis per lakh population are reported every year. Though it has come down over the past decade, it is still significant with a prevalence of 211 cases per lakh people. Moreover, in the absence of a proper tracking mechanism, a lot of unreported cases may spread the bacteria.

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