24 March 2015
Most people are unaware that tuberculosis can affect the genital tract. However, TB of the genital tract occurs quite commonly following TB infection anywhere else in the body. The TB mainly spreads through the blood stream to the genital organs. When the infection invades the reproductive system, it commonly targets the fallopian tubes and the uterus and may lower your chances of conception.
Genital TB can be a silent disease and may be heard to diagnose. For most women the most common symptom is infertility. Other symptoms can include weight lost, a permanent aching page in the abdomen, vaginal discharge stained with blood, bleeding after intercourse, menstrual abnormalities, and general weakness.
Genital TB affects the genital tract (in both men and women), fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries. In some cases it also affects the cervix, vagina and vulva. The damage caused to the fallopian tubes can be so severe that you may have to resort to assisted reproduction in order to fall pregnant. Statistics show that two out of ten women suffering from TB cannot bear children. If diagnosed early enough the disease can be treated allowing women to regain their fertility. In men, it blocks the sperm tubes and damages the testes, as a result of which the man becomes azoospermic (no sperm enters the semen because the tract is blocked).
Fortunately genital TB is relatively uncommon in South Africa in comparison to developing countries across the world. The treatment for genital TB is the same as for lung TB or any other form of TB. It is a course of antibiotics that lasts about six to eight months. It is important to complete the entire course of the treatment.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from genital TB you should see your doctor immediately for diagnosis and treatment.