With sexually transmitted diseases at historically high levels in the United States, it’s more important than ever for sexually-active individuals to undergo regular screenings for the infections that cause these diseases. Infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis can have a variety of negative effects on reproductive health, particularly in women.
According to a recent study conducted at Oxford University, undiagnosed sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) can even contribute to unpleasant premenstrual symptoms (PMS).
This study, which was conducted in conjunction with the female health, fertility and period-tracking application CLUE, found that the presence of an undiagnosed STI doubled the chances of women reporting negative PMS symptoms such as cramping, headaches, sadness and heightened emotional sensitivity. These findings are based on data gathered from 865 CLUE users over the course of the study.
Participants in the study were first asked if they had ever been diagnosed with an STI, and if so when they were diagnosed and if they had received treatment. Then, the researchers compared their answers with data the women had logged in the CLUE app regarding their menstrual cycles and contraceptive use. The researchers found that, prior to their diagnoses, women who were infected with STIs were twice as likely to report symptoms of PMS.
“Our research shows that by better understanding their period and menstrual cycle, women could potentially improve their health,” said lead study author Dr. Alexandra Alvergne in a statement. “If you know that severe PMS could be an indicator of an underlying STI, you are more likely to listen to your body.
Although many women experience symptoms of PMS, a sudden increase in the frequency or severity of these symptoms could be a sign of underlying health issues. Pay close attention to changes in your reproductive health, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a gynecologist for help.