People usually don't like going to the GP to make a sexual health consultation. There is still a strong taboo around sexuality, especially in cases which aren't conventional or weren't a short time ago - homosexuality, open couples, elderly sex, female promiscuity and others of the like. When a person suspects that they might have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) which requires treatment, they are more likely to resist going to a GP than in the case of other kind of infection or disease. For this reason, it isn't uncommon that some of these conditions remain untreated or undiagnosed, even with the clear presence of symptoms.
Many STIs are easily cured with antibiotics, and don't even leave sequels of any kind. Still, the earlier they are diagnosed and treated, the less chances patients have to suffer long term damage to their health, or at least a more serious syndrome. The more resistant patients are to get their symptoms checked at a genitourinary medicine clinic or a GP, the more likely they are to suffer from complications from STIs.
However, there is another scenario that is even worse. Some infections and syndromes caused by them have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. This means that people are often unaware of the fact that they carry an infection, so they spread it around to their sexual partner(s) and the bacteria or viruses affect their organs and even threaten their lives sometimes. In these cases, the risk of complications is even higher, and some patients might find out about their condition when it's already too late.
Few people have even heard about pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), but this is a surprisingly common condition that affects women. PID can have serious consequences on their health when untreated, including infertility and chronic pain.
As PID often has no symptoms, it has been called "the silent epidemic". PID is caused by several kinds of infections that move forwards towards the vagina and into the other female reproductive organs. It can even spread to the bloodstream, threatening the woman's life. PID risks include unprotected and/or promiscuous sex, sex under the age of 25, using an IUD, douching, unsafe abortions and a history of PID.
As the infection spreads throughout the reproductive system, it can cause scarring of tissue, leading to infertility or ectopic pregnancies - which are inviable in most cases. PID usually has no symptoms, but when it does, the most common include pain in the abdomen or when peeing or having sex, fever, odd vaginal discharge and irregular bleeding. When the infection spreads to the bloodstream, it can cause fainting, vomiting and high fever. This state of the infection is life-threatening. If you want to find more information, click on this article on PID.
There isn't a single infection that causes PID. This disease can be triggered by bacterial vaginosis (BV) and STIs. Gonorrhea and chlamydia have been reported to cause up to half of PID cases. These are sexually transmitted infections that are becoming increasingly common among the population.
This is a bacterial infection that can affect the urethra, anus, throat and/or eyes. It's commonly known as "the clap". Symptoms include odd discharges, discomfort when peeing or moving bowels, and a sore throat. When untreated, it is often successfully erradicated by our immune system, but in some cases it can cause infertility or even death.
Click here for more gonorrhoea information.
This an infection caused by a different bacteria, and it often has no symptoms, or it takes a long time for them to appear, which severely increases the risk of the infectin being unnoticed and passed to other sexual partners. Symptoms include odd discharges, pain and inflammation of the testicles. It requires antibiotic treatment.
Click here for more chlamydia information.
As you can see, causes of PID are sometimes as hard to detect as PID itself. For this reason, you should run routine sex health screenings, especially if you have unprotected sex, you have changed your sexual partner recently, or if you change sexual partners often.
You can get tested at your GP or you can access tests online. The later is an increasingly preferred option since it allows much more privacy than going to a GP, and people understandably want a discrete course of actions in a case like this. If you are a woman or transgender with female organs you should get tested for STIs that could cause PID and other conditions. You can find a test for the major causes here.
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