Hey friends I am back again! Hope you all paid attention to my advice and practiced healthy sexual habits. There is no alternative to good health and that includes sexual health too. Do you know according to the WHO estimates; around 349 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases are expected to be diagnosed in the next decade. This is a serious cause of concern and needs to be tackled. The onus obviously lies with the public health system but the buck stops at each one of us. We should treat our bodies as temples and not let foreign germs intrude into our hospitality.
I do not wish to reiterate about sexually transmitted diseases, this month I focus on one STD: syphilis. It is caused by the Treponema pallidum-a cork screw shaped bacteria. About 1.4% of Indian males are infected by this pathogen. Let us know more about this disease.
Question: How does one get infected by the bacteria?
BholaDa says: The infection can be contracted because of many reasons which revolve around one central reason: erratic lifestyle. Risky sexual activities, multiple partners, erratic use of contraceptives are small instances of the habits to be shown the door to keep away from the bacteria. The bacteria is transmitted through the mucous membrane of the genital area, the mouth or the anus. It can also pass through any broken surface in the skin. Very rarely, the infection can also be transmitted by indirect contact (like using same towel or toilet seat).
Question: How can I understand if I have syphilis?
BholaDa says: There are generally many stages of the appearances of the symptoms. The first symptom can appear anytime between 10 days – 3 months after the exposure. The Chancres (painless sores) in the body start developing. This is called primary syphilis. People generally tend to neglect these appearances, which leads to fatality in the future. Appearance of chancres is followed by skin rashes (secondary syphilis). These may occur all over the body or may be restricted to specific sites where the bacterial contamination occurred. Rashes are generally accompanied by headache, mild fever, and flu like symptoms, hair loss, sore throat and swollen lymph glands.
Question: What are the effects of the infection on body physiology?
BholaDa says: If a patient is not treated, he may develop severe pathologies of the heart, eyes, brain, nervous system, bones, joints, or almost any other part of the body. Neurological damage with severe impairment of memory is a dangerous consequence of infection with this bacterium. These symptoms appear many years after the actual infection and continue for life. The Syphilis lesions might pave the way for HIV virus too.
Question: I have multiple sexual partners. How do I ascertain I do not have this infection?
BholaDa says: The best remedy is to visit a dermatologist’s clinic. The physical examination of your body as well as study of your symptoms will throw some light on the infection. This may be followed by blood test as well as microscopic identification of syphilis bacteria in your body for confirmation. Blood tests are generally not very conclusive in this regard. In some cases lumbar puncture is done to collect spinal CSF samples for testing neural infection. Some of the most common of the screening tests are the VDRL (Venereal Disease Research Laboratory) test and the rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test. Common immune responses to the bacteria in your body might also be checked. To supplement these tests, AIDS tests might also be done. Government hospitals offer these tests free of cost and identity of the patient is also kept confidential.
Question: What are the treatments available for syphilis?
BholaDa says: Being a bacterial infection, syphilis can be treated with antibiotics. Penicillin has been widely used in this regard, but other antibiotics (mostly the β lactam ones) are in vogue too. Researchers are studying the efficacy of ceftriaxone andazithromycin in treating syphilis owing to the similarities of these drugs with penicillin.
Question: What are the ways of preventing an infection?
BholaDa says: There is no alternative to safe sex. Multiple partners should be avoided at all costs. One should get a free check up done to be clear of his status of infection. Mutual understanding between two mating partners is obviously needed, you have to talk with your partner and work out ways of preventing an impending infection. Again, the use of rubber is essential. It must be worn in the proper way and worn at all stages of intercourse to prevent penile infections.
In short, your health lies in your hands. You have to be aware about the issues and take proper measures to ward out the evil. Stay safe and stay healthy. Until next time, practice safe sex. Remember there is no substitute for the condom.