So you think you know everything about sex eh? You have gone to all measures to avoid pregnancy and learnt almost all the Kamasutra positions when…scratch, scratch…ow…ewe! Sexually Transmitted Infection! Gosh. This is any self-respecting person’s worst nightmare but it happens. Contrary to popular assumption, anybody can contract an STI and not a certain “kind” of people. Definitely not only promiscuous folk, prostitutes, gays, dirty people or whatever goes through the alleged higher class of society’s mind. Even that healthy looking beautiful person you see may have an infection. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Anyone can get an STI and not even the comfort of a relationship can be enough prevention. A friend of mine used to say, ‘you haven’t had all the sexual experience unless you’ve had an STI’.Ofcourse this is humorous chatter but it basically points to the fact that STIs, or ‘idrop’ is more prevalent and common and with almost everyone sleeping with somebody how could it not be? We live in a “sexified” society and popular culture puts young people under pressure to experiment and seek gratification, sex being the main activity. It’s no surprise that it’s usually young people who get STIs.Considering that South Africa and Africa is said to have the highest rate of HIV/AIDS, it’s best to take precautionary measures to protect ourselves. Uganda is a good example of a country that controlled its sexual infections rate. We don’t all have to turn Muslim or religious but develop values and principles that guard our health and wellbeing for personal comfort and prosperity.
It’s almost impossible to get AIDS without an STI, as the regular breakdown of the immune system makes it easier for opportunistic illnesses to abound but I’ll leave that talk for the likes of Chriselda Kananda.
We all have an individual role to play in keeping ourselves healthy, clean and productive. Blaming is a primitive act. We are post industrial revolution, while back then an STI was almost the end of the world for the infected, nowadays there is treatment, even though some like syphilis are not entirely curable. Despite this, it does not mean you should go out and be careless knowing you will get treatment. The old adage, ‘Prevention is better than cure’ applies in all respects. Below are a few pointers you can use to protect yourself.
- Shave or trim your private/genital areas. Bush was cool pre-2008.The only way to easily see what is going on down there is to trim the hair. Encourage your partner to do the same. If something is amiss…you will notice.Er…you do have to see your partner’s privates you know…visual stimulation.
- Practice good hygiene. Apart from bathing clean and often, make sure you dry yourself well. Infections love moist areas. The items you use personally (towels, body scrubs, sex toys, underwear etc) should also be kept clean, preferably cleaned with warm or hot water and washed regularly. And your grandmother wasn’t being a nuisance about changing underwear regularly and specially washing your package. It’s for your own good.
- Go for STI screening. So you ask your partner if he/she is “clean” and they say yes .Do you believe it flatly? No. As long as someone has a sexual history you have to be sure. STI screening is not embarrassing, it is quite helpful as you get to find out if you may have an infection that you may not be aware of and get treatment immediately. Some infections like Chlamydia often don’t show signs. Enquire about screening services from your doctor or local clinic. This is a good investment in health and positivity…something useful and important to your wellbeing.
- Practice safe sex. Condoms, when used correctly are effective. Even though condoms reduce risk of infection of STIs, one can get infections from a person’s genital area. During sex, genital areas touch and this is one way infections can be spread so it’s best to see what’s happening and take precaution.
- Know who you are “fucking”.One night stands, quickies in clubs and orgies may seem cool and fun but they come with a huge risk. Usually the people involved are intoxicated or hungry for a quick thrill and there’s never proper communication.
What are the chances of someone telling you, “By the way, I have an infection.”
Even when you get something from them, it will be difficult to tell them about it since there’s no rapport of confidence. The realist in me has to inform you that not everyone has good intentions, just as sex is not a proclamation of love. Some people have sex, when they know they have a sexually transmitted infection.
So, if you get idrop, my sympathy will not go out to you. It’s your responsibility to be protected. Below are the most popular Stis, the signs and symptoms and how to get through the “mini-ordeal”.
This infection is caused by the gonococcus bacteria. It tends to thrive in moist areas.
In its “fully fledged” stage, gonorrhoea affects the anus, throat, eyes and cervix in women.
The two ways of infection are through sexual intercourse or from a mother to her child during natural birth delivery.
Burning feeling when urinating
Abnormal vaginal and penis discharge (accompanied with offish smell and a lot more discharge than normal)
These symptoms are likely to appear two to nine days after infection
The clinic will give you a dose of antibiotics which you have to complete. It is advisable to refrain from sexual activity during this period. Your partner also has to take this medication.
Risks if untreated
It may spread to other areas of the body and cause abscesses (round lumps), skin infections, gonococcal arthritis and meningitis.
These are caused by human papiloma virus (hpv).They appear on the genitals and have a strange appearance that looks like ummm….cauliflower.
The strange lumps
Sometimes there are no signs but an abnormal itch
Your clinic can give you a gel/ointment or they are frozen or burnt using laser treatment
Risks if untreated
Women have a higher chance of getting cervical cancer if they get this infection
This is a bacterial infection. It’s usually referred to as the silent one since many people who are infected rarely show signs or symptoms. See the danger? It can affect the rectum and cervix.
Whitish vaginal or penis discharge
Itchiness in the genital areas
Fever and tiredness
Cloudy coloured urine
The clinic will give you a dose of antibiotics. It’s also important to follow a healthy diet and avoid smoking and drinking alcohol as this aggravates the infection.
Risks if untreated
It can lead to infertility in women. If a woman has it during pregnancy, they may suffer miscarriage, premature birth and rupture of the membranes.
These are parasites that infest hair in the genital area. One gets them through close contact with an infected person. Sharing towels, bedding and clothes makes for easier transmission.
Itchiness in pubic hair. If you look closely, you may even see the lice on the hair.
The clinic will prescribe lice shampoo or cream to kill the lice.Individually, shave your genital hair off, wash all your items in hot water and avoid sexual intercourse during treatment.
Risks if untreated
These buggers are bound to be a nuisance as they will easily move to other hairy areas like the armpits, head and so on.
This STI is caused by a germ called spirochaete.In its first stage, a lump or ulcer appears on the penis or the vulva one week to three months after being infected. This ulcer usually heals on it’s own without being treated after four weeks. The germ by then has already entered the body.
Pimple like lump on genital area
Skin rash and high temperature
Swollen lymph nodes (check armpit, inner thighs, above pelvis)
Note that these symptoms are variable. A person may appear to be in good health for many years.
The clinic will prescribe penicillin. The treatment must be taken in the early stages of infection to be effective.
Risks if untreated
The spirochetes will cause inflammation or ulcers anywhere on the body and do permanent damage to the brain and blood vessels, leading to paralysis and insanity.
This most common STI is transmitted mainly through unprotected sex.Unlike other STIs when you get HIV, it remains in the body for life and gradually attacks and destroys the immune system, which is meant to protect the body against infection.
Three weeks after infection, the person may have fever, night sweats, aching muscles, sore throat, tiredness, swollen glands, diarrheoa, skin rash, sores in the mouth and genital areas and sensitivity to light. You can get some if not all of these symptoms.
In the advanced stage, the person has shingles, experiences weight loss, swelling of neck glands, armpits and groin, vaginal discharge, pain in the lower abdomen, coughs and a shortness of breath as well as weakened muscles.
There are drugs like ARVs (Anti retroviral) to control the illness. Please note that personally, I discourage this consumption of a mixture of tablets and medicinal conconctions, particularly on a long term basis.
A lifestyle change would seem more effective. Safe sex, abstinence from alcohol and drugs, a healthy diet and exercise regime, as well as a positive and open mind are a sure way to live well with HIV. This is my personal view, reached after extensive personal research and bias and it may not apply to everybody. Tablets make people dependent and the ARV industry is a multi million project that capitalizes on human weakness. Please show me someone on ARVs who has lived beyond a decade. When one makes the decision to take ARVs, it’s better to couple the treatment with a healthy lifestyle and/or delay the point of taking medication.
Risks if untreated
In later stages, the infected person develops AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).The immune system fails and the person gets opportunistic illnesses like stroke, cancer, hypertension, TB and shingles.
HIV is a sensitive issue and has raised much debate in many circles. I will engage the whole issue in depth in future issues from the myths, fears, ignorance to the financial returns market. The best thing to do is maintain and control the illness. It’s just like any other life long illness, such as diabetes. With so many people dying and falling sick from HIV related illnesses, it needs our attention.
Generally, we all have a role to play in protecting our health and avoiding ignorance and ill heath. Invest in your betterment, good health and that of your community. Healthy individuals=healthy communities=happy and able people=productive nation.
Sex position of the month
Woman lies sideways or on back (not flat down) and uses lower arms for support. Slowly part legs and rest the top leg on partner’s shoulder, so that it hangs towards the back. The other leg should be stretched out sideways, preferably against a wall, for easier balance.
Man kneels in front of woman and parts legs a bit. For taller men, squatting would be better. Hold the woman’s waist (love handles) for support. Enter her slowly and begin thrusting. For extra sensation, the woman can push herself forward to meet the man’s thrusts. This position can be done in reverse, with the woman on top and the man lying back. This position allows for exciting visual stimulation.
In the next issue we discuss common sexual fantasies and abnormalities and how to deal with them.