New Delhi: Genital Tuberculosis (TB) caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria is a complex chronic infection that can manifest itself both as latent and active. This bacteria is transported by the blood to other organs. Genital Tuberculosis can cause infertility in both men and women.
In women, Genital TB can affect the fallopian tubes and uterus, its endometrium lining and cause adhesion of the uterine wall, known as Asherman’s syndrome. In men, it can cause the inability to ejaculate, low sperm motility and the inability of the pituitary gland to produce sufficient hormones.
“According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), half of the women in India seeking IVF procedure have been reported to have genital TB and the prevalence has increased by more than 10 percent between 2011 and 2015. This is very alarming statistics as India about a quarter of the global TB burden and genital TB can be a silent infection,” says Dr Gauri Agarwal, Founder Director, Seeds of Innocence.
Lack of awareness about Genital TB
There is a dearth of awareness against this serious yet preventable disease. “Lack of awareness about the disease and missing symptoms are key hindrances to control this health condition,” says Dr Agarwal.
She also pointed out symptoms to keep an eye at. “Women must watch out for symptoms such as irregular menstrual cycle, swelling in the genital area, vaginal discharge with blood, bleeding or pain after intercourse that may indicate an infection.”
“Genital Tuberculosis can be asymptomatic or may present atypical symptoms or even mimic other clinical conditions that make the situation even more challenging. Therefore, it is necessary that we consider the possibility of TB in patients who have symptoms of infertility, chronic pelvic pain and menstrual dysfunction. This is very important for those women who fall unto the high-risk category for TB infection, ” says Dr Amita Shah, Medical Director and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Miracles Mediclinic and Apollo Cradle Hospital, Gurugram.
Preventive measures for Genital TB
Genital Tuberculosis is treatable in its early stages. However, a delay in diagnosis and treatment can damage fallopian tubes in women and cause azoospermia (complete absence of sperm in semen) in men.
Adopting safe sexual practices and getting a Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine can help prevent genital tuberculosis.
“It is necessary that we consider the possibility of TB in patients who have symptoms of infertility, chronic pelvic pain and menstrual dysfunction. This is very important for those women who fall unto the high-risk category for TB infection,” says Dr Shah.
“Adopting safe sexual practices and getting a Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine can help prevent acquiring an infection in both men and women. Besides, one must ensure well-ventilated rooms, natural light, and good hygiene practices to prevent infection,” adds Dr Agarwal.