Sex Capers

Don’t let the thrills of sexual ad­ven­ture land you in a mess. Know all about Sex­u­ally Trans­mit­ted In­fec­tions – and how much they can harm you.

Health & Nutrition - - CONTENTS -

Guard against sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions

Ca­sual sex, some­times with a part­ner one hardly knows, has be­come a com­mon fea­ture in mod­ern so­ci­ety, es­pe­cially amongst those who are ad­dicted to drugs and al­co­hol. Hav­ing a dif­fer­ent sexual part­ner ev­ery few weeks or months is con­sid­ered ‘cool’ and an achieve­ment to be bragged about! But how many women re­al­ize the kind of risks they are ex­pos­ing them­selves to when they live such a life? Many women find it dif­fi­cult to

ask their part­ners to use con­doms, fear­ing that their part­ners, whom they think they are in love with, may get of­fended at such a sug­ges­tion. There are oth­ers who pro­ceed with un­pro­tected sex as they don’t like to dis­please their part­ners as many men find con­doms sex­u­ally un­sat­is­fy­ing.

Two Big Risks For Women

Un­pro­tected sex has two ma­jor risks for women, the first be­ing an un­wanted preg­nancy and the other which is the riskier one, is that of get­ting in­fected with a sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tion. Young girls feel that an un­wanted preg­nancy can be eas­ily man­aged by pop­ping in an ‘I-pill’ im­me­di­ately af­ter sexual in­ter­course. Lit­tle do they re­al­ize that the I-pill has a 10-15% fail­ure rate and they could get preg­nant even af­ter they have taken the pill! On the other hand, there are women who would not even take that pre­cau­tion and would act only af­ter they got preg­nant. Ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy is eas­ily avail­able and at such a low cost, that sub­ject­ing them­selves to a pro­ce­dure, whether med­i­cal or sur­gi­cal, does not re­ally bother them. How­ever, with ev­ery ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy, there is al­ways a pos­si­bil­ity of an in­com­plete abor­tion, wherein some of the preg­nancy tis­sue does not get ex­pelled and gets re­tained within the uterus,

The sim­ple ad­vice to all sex­u­ally ac­tive women, es­pe­cially those who have mul­ti­ple part­ners, is to in­sist that all their part­ners use con­doms, which will of­fer them dual pro­tec­tion from preg­nancy and STIs.

lead­ing to an in­fec­tion that may get so se­vere that it could even lead to death! If less se­vere, it could damage the fal­lop­ian tubes, lead­ing to in­fer­til­ity, when later in life preg­nancy is de­sired. Hence it is im­por­tant to have the pro­ce­dure taken care of at cen­tres which are hy­gienic, though pre­ven­tion of preg­nancy is def­i­nitely the more ad­vis­able choice. The sec­ond risk which women face with un­pro­tected sex is that of pick­ing up a sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tion (STI) from an in­fected sexual part­ner. There are var­i­ous STIs which ex­ist and they lead to var­i­ous symp­toms such as ex­ces­sive foul smelling vagi­nal dis­charge, se­vere vagi­nal burn­ing and itch­ing, fre­quent and painful uri­na­tion. Th­ese dis­tress­ing symp­toms force a vic­tim to seek ur­gent med­i­cal help and treat­ment of the in­fec­tion. But there are cer­tain in­fec­tions such as Ch­ly­ma­dia, which silently in­vades the fe­male re­pro­duc­tive sys­tem and causes havoc by

dam­ag­ing the fal­lop­ian tubes lead­ing to in­fer­til­ity or ec­topic preg­nan­cies. On the other hand, there is the HPV in­fec­tion which is the cause of 80% cases of cancer of the cervix. Be­sides such in­fec­tions may cre­ate ugly growths around the gen­i­tal area, which can be­come ex­tremely em­bar­rass­ing and re­pul­sive! There are some in­fec­tions like the Her­pes which can stay within the sys­tem for years and get passed on to the de­vel­op­ing baby within the uterus, lead­ing to prob­lems in the healthy devel­op­ment of the baby’s brain and var­i­ous other or­gans.

Treat Self First

Bac­te­rial STIs can be eas­ily treated with an­tibi­otics though vi­ral in­fec­tions can be only sup­pressed. It is ex­tremely im­por­tant that treat­ment should be taken by both the sexual part­ners, so as to nip it in the bud be­fore it reaches hu­mungous pro­por­tions. The in­fec­tion can have a domino ef­fect by an in­fected part­ner pass­ing it on to all his or her un­sus­pect­ing part­ners, when both the part­ners don’t take the treat­ment si­mul­ta­ne­ously, which hap­pens very of­ten. The male part­ners usu­ally do not have any symp­toms and hence are re­luc­tant to take the treat­ment. In such a sit­u­a­tion, the in­fec­tion can be­come chronic and re­sis­tant to any treat­ment. So, the sim­ple ad­vice to all sex­u­ally ac­tive women, es­pe­cially those who have mul­ti­ple part­ners, is to in­sist that all their part­ners use con­doms, which will of­fer them dual pro­tec­tion from preg­nancy and STIs.

Men At Risk Too

On the other hand, when men are sex­u­ally ac­tive with­out pro­tec­tion, they are equally at risk of pick­ing up in­fec­tion from their fe­male part­ners. STIs like HIV, Hepati­tis B, Hepati­tis C and HPV are silent in­fec­tions, with­out any symp­toms but lead to life-long dis­abil­ity and cancer. STIs may cause ac­tu­ally painful symp­toms such as gon­or­rhea, which makes the per­son rush to the doc­tor im­me­di­ately. So the acute ones get treated quickly, whilst the silent ones re­main in­side for years and are de­tected only when the dis­ease has caused its harm. Yes, men don’t have to worry about get­ting preg­nant, but they should re­al­ize that they can pass on their dis­eases picked up through un­pro­tected ca­sual sex, some­times with com­mer­cial sex work­ers, to their fu­ture wives and through them, to their fu­ture chil­dren. Hence be­ing young and hav­ing fun is okay, but not when it is ir­re­spon­si­ble, not when such fun is the cause of dreaded dis­eases in one’s loved ones!

Young girls feel that an un­wanted preg­nancy can be man­aged by pop­ping in an ‘I-pill’ im­me­di­ately af­ter sexual in­ter­course. Lit­tle do they re­al­ize that the I-pill has a 1015% fail­ure rate and they could get preg­nant even af­ter tak­ing the pill!

DR DURU SHAH Di­rec­tor, Gy­naec­world, Cen­ter for As­sisted Re­pro­duc­tion & Women’s Health, & Panel Con­sul­tant, Breach Candy, Jaslok, Global & Hin­duja Health­care Hos­pi­tals, Mum­bai.

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