Can STDs Cause Ovarian Cancer?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are transmitted through sexual contact. They can be caused by various microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites (via MedlinePlus). One common STD is chlamydia. This is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through sexual contact. It can cause symptoms such as abnormal discharge from the genitals, and pain during urination, and sexual intercourse, per the Mayo Clinic

Gonorrhea is another bacterial infection that is transmitted through sexual contact. The symptoms aren't obvious but include itching in the anus, genital discharge, and painful bowel movements (via Healthline). Herpes, on the other hand, is a viral infection that is transmitted through sexual contact, which can cause symptoms such as painful sores on the genitals, mouth, or anus and flu-like symptoms, per the Mayo Clinic.

Certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have been linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, including ovarian cancer (via WebMD). However, it is important to note that other risk factors for ovarian cancers exist beyond STIs. Generally speaking, it is important to practice safe sex and to get tested regularly to reduce the risk of contracting an STI. If you have been exposed to an STI or have symptoms, it is important to see a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

What is ovarian cancer, and how do STIs cause it?

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries, located on either side of the uterus. The ovaries are responsible for producing eggs and hormones, including estrogen and progesterone (via Healthline). Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women, says the American Cancer Society. Various types of ovarian cancer exist, including germ cell ovarian cancer, epithelial ovarian cancer, and stromal cell ovarian cancer, says Healthline. 

There is evidence to suggest that certain STIs, such as chlamydia, can cause ovarian cancer (via WebMD). According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, chlamydia antibodies doubled the risk of ovarian cancer. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is another cancer-related virus commonly transmitted through sexual contact (via the National Cancer Institute). According to the institute, it can cause genital warts and certain types of cancer, including cervical and anal cancer. However, it's not generally associated with ovarian cancer, says Medical News Today.

Risk factors of ovarian cancer.

One common risk factor of ovarian cancer is age. The condition is rarer in women over 40, says Healthline. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer may also be at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Certain genetic mutations, such as those in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, can increase the risk of ovarian cancer, per Mayo Clinic. Reproductive history is also another factor. Women who have never given birth may be at increased risk of ovarian cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include abdominal pain or bloating, bowel habit changes, frequent urination, weight loss, pelvic discomfort, and a feeling of fullness, according to Mayo Clinic. However, these symptoms are often vague and can be caused by other conditions, so it is important to see a healthcare provider about your risk factors for ovarian cancer and to undergo regular screenings.