HEALTH TALK: Can we get a little private

Dr. Victor Emanuel MD
Dr. Victor Emanuel MD

When one looks around and takes note of the number of pregnant women in the country, particularly unwed ones, one knows for sure that these women are not protecting themselves against sexually transmitted infections (STI’s).

In addition, it is amazing to reflect on the number of women who come to the office for advice or a prescription for contraceptives, but not condoms.  It is obvious that they want to protect them-selves against pregnancy but either don’t understand that contraceptives do not protect them against diseases, or that they don’t care.  So let me emphasize from the start: Contraceptives, oral or injectable, protect you only against pregnancy, condoms protect you against both.

As usual, perhaps I can talk about a few of the more common STI’s, some of which are actually more prevalent than we think.

Gonorrhea

Some have called this the ‘clap’ and many a man has experienced its symptoms.  Typically in a man, it causes severe pain while urinating and a discharge from the urethra (tube within the penis).  Usually this occurs between two to five days after infection from a woman, but it can be up to a week.  The discharge is unmistakable; yellow and pusy (purulent).  He may also experience a tendency to urinate more frequently and with a serious urge.  Left untreated, it may spread to other parts of his genitals, such as his testicles, and a long term complication is that his urethra becomes narrowed so that a surgeon has to insert an instrument every few months to open it so that he can urinate properly.

Women may not have symptoms except a yellow discharge as well and pain during sex because other organs in the pelvic region have been infected, organs inside and outside the general area.  One of the most serious complications is what is called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID, which can lead to scarring of the tubes and infertility.

Tests can be done on the discharge to confirm the diagnosis, but really any doctor worth his or her salt can make a diagnosis by the story and examination.  Treatment does not have to be by injection as in the old days. Tablets in single doses will do fine but see your doctor, not your pharmacist.  There are good reasons for this.

 Yeast Infections

These are no strangers to many women, particularly those who are diabetic.  As a matter of fact, to the vigilant nurse or doctor, it can serve as a first sign of that disease.  Also prone are pregnant women, those who are on contraceptives, antibiotics (as for acne) and those who are immunosuppressed (as in HIV).  Those who douche may also have that problem.  Usually, there is a thick, sometimes thin, cheesey discharge which may have a mild odor, but which itches and causes some burning on urination and redness in and just around the vagina.  It causes no complications to the woman or man – it stays where it is.  In men, there may be a few buttons in the groove below the head of his penis.  For the women, there are creams and tablets to insert within the vagina, and a cream to use simultaneously on the outside, but nowadays a simple one time capsule will do the trick. Yeast infections are actually not anymore considered sexually transmitted infections.

Chlamydia

This is taking over as a cause of infertility and disease in women from gonorrhea.  The symptoms are essentially the same as are the signs.  Usually, however, it takes a longer time to manifest. The discharge in the woman is almost the same, but in men, in whom the symptoms are the same, and also take a longer time, it tends to be clear or white and sticky.  The consequences are the same, so get yourself treated by the doctor!

Syphilis

I will not say much about this because it is not very common these days.  Elderly folks will know this very well.  It starts out as a chancre, a sore in the genital area, usually on the shaft of the penis, or almost anywhere in the vaginal area for women.  Strange thing about it, it is absolutely painless, so one may not notice it. Untreated, it goes into a second stage with a rash on some parts of the body, and still untreated it goes into a third or latent (hidden) stage for up to 20 or 30 years when it will affect the heart, major blood vessels and the brain.  It was very often acquired by babies from their mother in the womb in the past. This is why every pregnant mother even today is asked to do a test called RPR, to determine whether there is syphilis in their body.  Syphilis has remained treatable by penicillin over the decades, so it’s no problem for your doctor.  Penicillin, luckily, is still one of the cheapest around.  Bad news, it’s injections.

 Genital Warts

These are just as the name says.  They are caused by a virus called human papilloma virus (HPV) and the importance of this is that it is implicated in cancer of the cervix, a major killer of women.  They are soft, moist, minute, pink or red swellings that look like cauliflowers.  They should be easily noticeable by both men and women and it is important that you consult your dermatologist or, better yet, your gynecologist for help.

Genital Herpes

This deserves some emphasis because it seems to be becoming a disease of the 2000′s again as it was in the early 1980′s.  It occurs in both men and women as a vesicle (pimple) in the genital area or as groups of vesicles, 7 to 14 days after contact.  These will eventually break down and form a very painful or tingling sore, particularly when wet.  Untreated, this will last for about a week.  But, it will recur because the virus never leaves your body, but hides in your nerve cells called dorsal ganglia. We can control it, but we cannot kill it.  It is essentially a nuisance now and then.  Some get it more often than others, in the same or different areas.

Trichomonas

Females have a greenish yellow frothy discharge with irritation of the genital area.  Men may have no symptoms, but sometimes things like irritations of the bladder occur.

A few things are important about these diseases: 1) they are preventable if you stick to one partner, 2) they are also preventable if a condom is used all the time correctly, and 3) they leave you more open to acquiring the HIV.

How much do I need to say about this? I will devote a whole issue to it sometime.  Ask me questions.

See you next week.

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19 Comments

  1. sis m
    January 6, 2014

    If we consider the biblical rules laid by Jesus christ and follow them in our daily lives all these diseases will become history.Everytime someone have sex demons and different personalities are being exchange.Take hid life is short live for Jesus Christ.His judgments are true altogether.

  2. Anonymous
    January 5, 2014

    I think Trichomonias is one of the STI’s that is not talked about much. It was only a few months ago I found about this STI. More info should be given to the public on this STI, as the symptons are similar to that of Yeast Infection. What a woman might think is Yeast infection might just be an STI..I have done an intense research on this STI.

    • Anonymous
      January 7, 2014

      I believe the doc discussed this topic as much as it needed it be discussed in the last of the issues he mentioned in the article.
      Women should not be thinking anything; a doctor should be making the diagnoses! Period

  3. Melanie
    January 5, 2014

    One thing I dont like about this article and the discussion is that it only mentions the woman’s responsibility for contraception. Contraception is EQUALLY a man’s responsibility.

  4. January 5, 2014

    Our FATHER IN HEAVEN, THANK YOU FOR YOUR GRACE AND MERCY.

    Thank You for Sharing and Being Concerned Doctor.

    We Have considered,if one is not concerned and angry ‘(outraged)’ about,wicked actions,ills,ignorance in This Time Of Increase Of Knowledge and the oppression of the poor and weak,that this one may, ‘not be Concerned,nor paying any attention’.

    Help is Extended here with information. Please Read,Research,Be Willing to accept Responsibility,Be Willing to embrace and work towards Change, Share and please Say THANK YOU.

    Although It Is not by might, nor by power,but By MY SPIRIT Says THE LORD, please consider you have been given so much FROM THE LORD.
    Please Be Wise,Seek THE TRUTH,For THE TRUTH WILL SET you free. Free To Choose Life And Be SAVED BY GRACE(THE FAVOR OF GOD) Through FAITH.

    Please Consider This, why would you think of it being necessary to “reject The Choice Of So Great A SALVATION” and Not Choose EVERLASTING LIFE?

    Keep In Our Minds That This SIGNIFICANT CHOICE Is Ours to Take.Be You Wise And Choose Wisely.

    Our CREATOR Asked Us To Choose Life.
    So GREAT A LOVE HE IS.

    No GREATER LOVE has no Man than this,than One Who Would Lay Down HIS LIFE For A Friend.

    Share LOVE.For Freely You Receive,Freely Give.

    Be A True Friend,Family Member And Let Us Diligently Do The Work We Were CALLED TO Do. We Being FAITHFUL TO The end, Our Promised And Guaranteed Reward Is EVERLASTING LIFE.Amen

    Please GIVE THE LORD Our GOD THANKS.

  5. :-)
    January 4, 2014

    Being unwed and pregnant does not mean that one is irresponsible and uncommitted.

  6. friend
    January 4, 2014

    when i was single the amount of guys who would not wear a condom was amazing, i would meet a guy we would want to have intercourse and they would refuse to wear on saying it ruin the feeling, so i would ruin the night and depart,,,,,,it is amazing how people think that having sex in the ocean or washing ya private parts with blue soap would stop anything being caught, man we so need to get better educated in DA espeacilly abot HIV.

  7. nice
    January 3, 2014

    Very relevant doc. Thanks. Married people are also prone because of unfaithful partners.

  8. Wesley Empress
    January 3, 2014

    Wow! Very essential info Doc. thumbs up to you!

  9. unknown
    January 3, 2014

    can you get trichomonas from using tampons a lot?

    • friend
      January 4, 2014

      Trichomoniasis is caused by a tiny single-celled parasite (lives off another living being) called Trichomonas vaginalis. It is a single-celled organism that latches onto the lining of the vagina.

      The parasite is usually spread by having unprotected sex (without using a condom). You do not have to have many sexual partners to catch trichomoniasis. Anyone who is sexually active can catch it and pass it on.

      Trichomoniasis cannot be passed on through oral or anal sex, kissing, hugging, sharing cups, plates or cutlery, toilet seats or towels.

      In rare cases, the infection can be spread by sharing sex toys. However, using a condom to cover your sex toy and washing it after use should decrease the chances of the infection spreading

      I hope this is helpful unkown xxxxx

      • Anonymous
        January 5, 2014

        I read online the parasite thrives in moist conditions like toilet seats, wet towels and baths. Therefore someone would be able to get it from these if it is infected. Is that another misconception?

  10. ArAb
    January 3, 2014

    I am in support of this article but at the same time i hate that it indicates that most of our women are sleeping around.

    Yes marriage should come first but if a woman is having sex out of marriage does not indicate that she has many partners in her life at once. She could be settled with one while moving towards marriage.

    In support; women please protect your selves cause you still never know. Make sure that if you choose not to use condom that you and your partner should test at least twice before you start. The test periods should be at least six(6) months apart and then you both act responsible from that point for the safety of each other.

    • Hmmm
      January 3, 2014

      Arab you are correct. The article also assumes that married people do not sleep around. Interestingly, many of them do.

      And at no time did the Doc mention the any men, married and single who sleep with both men and women.

      This article makes it look like its the women causing and spreading the diseases.

      Let us all protect ourselves.

      • Truth be Told
        January 3, 2014

        ArAb and Hmmm you are both wrong! As a professional the doc has made his observations on the evidence which he has before him which is spelled out in the opening sentences of paragraphs one and paragraph two. The problem is that the both of you seem to want the doctor to talk about things that he does not have the empirical evidence for. As such ArAb and Humm, I guess you have done the research and analysis and have the evidence for the rubbish that you speak, so go ahead and release the conclusions of your research like the good doc did with his! You Dominicans always know what you all do not know!

      • mom
        January 3, 2014

        as a woman i fully agree with the doc. Rape should be the only excuse for a lady to go unprotected, after all its us women you call the shots here, and the doc clearly showed in paragraph 2 its the women who come to him. Additionally women give birth which mom wants a sick body/baby?? But then again its our own attitude towards life and health, some might value life and health some might not! But certainly i know no one wants to be sick!!

      • Anonymous
        January 4, 2014

        The message is simple,be responsible….man and woman.

    • SS
      January 3, 2014

      Thats the same thing I thought.. the woman is not sleeping with herself Doc. Both partners share equal responsibility in protecting themselves.

      • Hmmm
        January 3, 2014

        @Truth be Told – you are speaking rubbish, how do these women get pregnant? Are you implying the men are protecting themselves but the women don’t? So then how do all these women get pregnant if the men are all using condoms? Please tell me. smh

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