Being fit and healthy doesn’t stop at your weight, it also includes your sexual health. In 2020, we’re maintaining balance in every area of our lives.
There are certain sexually and non sexually transmitted infections that affect your health, not just the vagina, but the liver, pelvic, fallopian tubes and several other areas of your body. Here’s a rundown of a few of these infections and diseases you should be aware of to stay informed and protect yourself.
According to the Centre for Disease Control, HPV (Human Papillomavirus Infection) is the most common sexually transmitted disease. HPV can be transmitted by sexual contact or from mother to child during pregnancy, labour or nursing. Once a person is sexually active, they are prone to have HPV, even if they have had only one sexual partner.
Usually, HPV presents no symptoms. However, persistent recurrence of HPV can lead to cervical cancer in women. According to the World Health Organisation, Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide and the second most popular in developing countries.
There is no cure for HPV, however a vaccine that prevents HPV is usually recommended for children, 90% of HPV infections go away on their own without treatment. It is however advisable that regular screenings and pap smears be conducted to catch the infections in its early stage and also prevent possible cervical cancer. Both men and women can have HPV.
Yeast infection occurs as a thick white or yellowish discharge from the vagina that causes irritation, inflammation (burning sensation) and intense itchiness in the vagina opening. 4 in 5 women will have yeast at least once in their lifetime. The vagina usually contains some bacteria and yeast cells, but when there’s an imbalance in bacteria and yeast composition, it can lead to a yeast infection.
While a yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted infection, because women who aren’t sexually active can also get the infection, it can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. A yeast infection can be caused by using antibiotics that kill off the good bacteria in the vagina, lack of sleep, stress, hormonal imbalance (during periods or ovulation), or transmitted through sex.
Antifungal cream or tablet will clear the infection within 3-5 days. A diet that includes yoghurt can also help to maintain a healthy bacteria to yeast composition. A yeast infection is usually very uncomfortable.
Chlamydia is spread primarily through sexual contact – vaginal, oral or anal. It usually does not have symptoms, however, symptoms may include pain during sex, pain or burning sensation during sex, lower belly pain. Chlamydia can sometimes affect the eyes, causing pus and discharge from the eyes. In 2016, it was reported by WHO that there were 127.2 million cases of Chlamydia worldwide.
Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics, it is important to get tested and properly diagnosed. Leaving Chlamydia untreated can lead to inflammation of the pelvic, which can lead to damage to the fallopian tubes and cause infertility. Chlamydia can be prevented by practising safe sex – using condoms, as well as regular screening. Chlamydia cannot be transmitted through contact with a toilet seat used by an infected person or sharing a swimming pool. Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection, it can also be passed from mother to child.
According to the WHO, in 2016, there were 78 million new cases of Gonorrhea among adolescents and adults aged 15–49 years worldwide. Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection transmitted by sexual contact. If left untreated, Gonorrhea can lead to infertility. Symptoms include pain in the lower abdomen, pain while peeing, unusual discharge from the vagina. Practising safe sex is the easiest way to prevent Gonorrhea – sticking with one sexual partner as well as using protection while having sex.
Gonorrhoea can be treated with a short course of antibiotics, however, it is becoming highly resistant to antibiotics If you’ve had Gonorrhea before, you can have it again. While treating Gonorrhea, it is best that you and your sexual partner abstain from sex.
Hepatitis B is a virus that can be transmitted through blood and body fluids during sexual intercourse. Hepatitis B affects the liver – it causes the liver to become inflamed and swollen. If left untreated, Hepatitis B can lead to liver disease and liver cancer. Although Hepatitis B can sometimes be without symptoms, some symptoms include dark urine, diarrhoea, loss of weight and appetite and flu-like symptoms.
Globally, approximately 257 million people have chronic hepatitis B according to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC). But as Hepatitis B doesn’t always present symptoms, a person may carry the infections for years without knowing, this is why it is advisable to carry out periodic screenings and pap smears.
Hepatitis can be detected through a simple test. If testing for Hepatitis B, it is advisable to test for other infections as well. Having infections such as Hepatitis B and Gonorrhea increase the chances of an HIV infection. The way to prevent Hepatitis B is by practising safe sex. Using protection during sex, even for sex toys, use condoms for sex toys and rinse before and after use. Stick with one sexual partner and have pap smears and tests regularly.
To ensure that you remain sexually healthy in 2020, get screened and tested for various infections every 6 months and get a pap smear once every 3 years.