Effects of STDs differ between men and womenMonday, October 28, 2013
BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE All Woman writer
WHILE sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) affect both genders, they impact men and women differently, and in women, can lead to long-term problems like infertility. Treatment is readily available for most STDs as soon as the symptoms hit, but in many cases, women have no symptoms, making the effect on them worse.
"Inflammation [caused by an STD] can sometimes damage the transit process -- the end of the tube which is very essential in the transportation of the egg," said Dr Charles Rockhead, gynaecologist at the Amadeo Medical Group in Spanish Town.
He said the inflammation can also be transmitted from the ostium (opening in the Fallopian tube) all the way into the pelvis and affect the peritoneum (a light film that covers the pelvis).
"What you find is that because the woman's anatomy is different from that of the man's, then STDs will affect women more than men," Dr Rockhead said. "Example, the vagina lining is thinner and more delicate than the skin on the penis, so it's easier for bacteria and viruses to penetrate the vagina."
Here are other ways the US Centres for Disease Control says STDs affect women differently:
1. Women often self-diagnose. Even though a woman may have an STD, she may believe it's something else -- like a yeast infection or normal discharge -- and seek to self-treat. Unfortunately, by the time she finds out it's an STD, the disease or infection may have already impacted her reproductive system. Because a healthy penis does not have any form of discharge, the moment one is sighted men often opt to visit their doctors.
2. Men can identify some STD symptoms easier than women. In cases where there are genital ulcers from infections like herpes and syphilis inside the vagina, it may not be easily visible to a woman, as opposed to a man who may have the sores in plain sight -- on the penis itself.
3. A woman has the ideal environment for bacteria. The woman's genitals provide the ideal, moist environment that most bacteria and fungi thrive on, so she will be impacted more often and greater than a man.
4. Women's infections can be more devastating. In the case of the human papilloma virus (HPV), for example, most men do not develop any serious problems, though HPV is very common in men. On the other hand, it is the main cause of cervical cancer in women.
5. Women are less likely to have symptoms of common STDs. Where diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea are concerned, women are less likely to show symptoms than men. And even when the symptoms show themselves, they can sometimes go away by themselves, leaving the women to think they are cured when it fact there is havoc being created on the reproductive system.
6. Women can pass on STDs to their babies. Women who are pregnant can pass STDs like genital herpes, syphilis and HIV to their babies during pregnancy or delivery, resulting in stillbirths, brain damage, blindness, deafness and low birth weight.
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