Genital TB Can Cause Infertility, Pregnancy Complications, If Left Untreated: Warn Doctors

Genital TB Can Cause Infertility, that is, it can affect your reproductive health if left untreated.

It is essential to tackle genital Tuberculosis  (TB) as soon as it is detected. Read on to know the warning signs and symptoms as well as how it is treated.

Genital TB Can Cause Infertility and More

Tuberculosis (TB) is a fatal infectious disease caused by a bacterium called mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but it can also impact other parts of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. Gynaecologist and fertility experts have warned that TB bacterium can also spread to the uterus and even the fallopian tubes, leading to infertility or pregnancy complications. Have you heard about genital TB?

Not only TB diagnosis during pregnancy can be risky for pregnant women, but for the babies too, if not treated at the right time. Hence, it is important to take timely treatment to avoid any complications due to TB, they stated.

“Pregnant women can suffer from TB. Complications of TB include spontaneous abortion, small for date uterus, preterm labour, low birth weight, and increased neonatal mortality. Acquiring an active TB infection in pregnancy can put the mother and baby at risk. But treatment can prevent all the complications. Tuberculosis can affect not only the lungs but many other organs too like bone, skin, intestines, uterus and fallopian tubes,” said Dr Padma Srivastava, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Lullanagar, Pune.

Genital TB: How it is diagnosed and treated?

Often tuberculosis is thought to be associated with chest because of the commonality in its occurrence, but it is a multi-organ infection that can even affect the reproductive health, said Dr. Bharati Dhorepatil, Consultant infertility expert, NOVA IVF fertility, Pune.

She explained, “In the case of reproductive health, Tuberculosis bacteria (TB bacillus) infects the fallopian tubes, and this can lead to blockage of fallopian tubes. Secondly, it affects the uterus lining which leads to thinning of the endometrium lining and scanty menses. The blockage of the fallopian tubes and thinning of endometrium lining leads to fertility issues.”

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Women with genital TB can have fertility problems. Even if it doesn’t affect their fertility, there is a high possibility of them having issues with their menstrual cycle. Since the TB impacts fallopian tubes, the fertilized egg will not be able to enter the tube and reach the uterus or the womb. If the endometrium lining is impacted, then there will be no fertilized embryo implantation in the uterus. The quality and chronic inflammation will reduce the egg reserve as well, the doctor stated.

These people have high risk for getting genital TB

People with weak immunity or diagnosed with diseases like cancer, diabetes, and HIV are at the risk of getting genital Tuberculosis, according to Dr Bharati.

She said, “Genital TB is a silent killer, which many times don’t show any symptoms except for infertility. There are only a few percentages of patients who come with menstrual irregularities, scanty menses, pelvic pain, and abnormal vaginal discharge. Genital TB can lead to spontaneous abortion and ectopic pregnancy.”

Dr Bharati said that an endometrial biopsy, and menstrual blood culture, can help in diagnosing genital TB. A laparoscopy can also help to understand the damage caused to the genital organs.

She continued, “It is essential to tackle genital TB as soon as it is detected. Those with genital TB are treated with ATT (anti-tubercular treatment), which helps in pregnancy if diagnosed earlier. Women with genital TB can conceive with the help of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) like IVF when there is a blockage of tubes and when the lining is very thin. They can be treated only with IVF.”

Warning symptoms of genital TB to watch out for

The TB bacteria spread from person to person via tiny air droplets released when a patient coughs and sneezes. The symptoms associated with TB include coughing, chest pain, weight loss, poor appetite, tiredness, fever, night sweats, and chills.

TB of the uterus may not be symptomatic, but she may come with vague period complaints, no periods/scanty periods, according to Dr. Meeta Nakhare, Gynecologist Lokmanya Hospital.

There are two forms of the disease: Active TB and Military TB. Active TB is an illness in which the bacteria are rapidly multiplying and invading different organs of the body. Military TB, on the other hand, affects the entire lung tissue and can cause problems.

Dr. Nakhare reiterated that TB, if left untreated, can lead to abortion, preterm labour, low birth weight, ectopic pregnancy, and higher neonatal mortality.

Therefore, she said, pregnant women with a confirmed diagnosis of TB should initiate treatment without any delay.

“Maximum cases of infertility are due to TB. Both partners can get affected. Overall immunity is affected and low in women. Multi-disciplinary approach with a chest physician, if needed gives excellent cure rates. However, if patients come late with multi-organ involvement, then prognosis is poor. Active TB is not a contraindication for the termination of pregnancy. But the anti-TB drugs may cause effects specifically in 1st trimester,” she noted.

Boost your immunity to deal with TB

If you’re diagnosed with TB, Dr. Padma suggested some tips to deal with the disease. She asked people to:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet to improve immunity
  • Follow good personal hygiene
  • Try to be in a ventilated room
  • Take medication as prescribed by the doctor
  • Rest enough
  • Stay hydrated
  • Wash hands properly
  • Go for regular follow-ups
  • Avoid crowded places
  • Don’t allow any visitors at home,
  • Cover the mouth while sneezing or coughing.

Dr. Nakhare pointed out that even though there are many government programs, there is still a taboo related to TB and even after diagnosis patients are reluctant to treatment.

Source | Genital TB Can Cause Infertility

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