Jun
15

Confessions from the closet- STI’s


Shhhhhh…. Not many of us openly like to talk about what’s going on down there

The Australian Department of Health has found that STI’s in Australia are on the rise in the last decade; especially bacterial infections such as: chlamydia up by 300% and gonorrhea has increased by 67%.

In this article we’ll shine light on the most commonly reported STI’s in Australia, their prevalence, symptoms, health risks and treatment options.

Why does this topic matter to me?

As a nutritionist and a naturopath I was approached to write about this buttoned up subject. I was shocked to discover that sexual education in many Australian schools is optional, unlike during my high school years. The ABC reported that many young people have misconceptions about safe sex such as: “ STI’s cannot be contracted through oral sex” “as long as I take the Pill I am safe”. By being more vocal about this topic, I feel strongly about empowering people with information and encourage a proactive approach to their health.

Different STI’s can potentially lead to serious health complications. Because society still attaches a certain stigma to sexually transmitted infections, it remains a taboo topic for many. Unfortunately, this can potentially lead to dire consequences if symptoms and regular check ups are neglected.

… So let’s take a closer look at the most prevalent STI’s.

Chlamydia

Transmitted by bacterium Chlamydia Trachomatis, this sexually transmitted infection is the most commonly reported STI in Australia with 435 cases per 100,000. The highest number of diagnosed cases was amongst people aged 18-29, of which women were found to be affected more than men. [2]

The tricky part with this silent infection is detection: up to 70% of those affected do not experience any symptoms, but can still be silent carriers [3]. Women’s reproductive organs can in some instances be severely damaged before they even realise. By this point the bacteria could have spread; potentially leading to complications such as: infertility, ectopic pregnancies and pelvic inflammation. Men too can become infertile if left untreated.

If symptoms do present themselves, they include: burning sensation on urination, abnormal discharge from the penis, vagina or rectum and, in women, bleeding between periods or after sexual intercourse.

Gonorrhoea

Also known as ‘The Clap’, is a sexually transmitted disease known to mankind since the medieval times. Some historians believe that the infection got it’s name from French brothels also known as ‘les clapiers’ where the visitors would often ended up contracting this infection. [3]

Transmitted by a bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, just like chlamydia, it can embed itself without any visible signs. If symptoms do arise, the most common ones to note include: abnormal genital discharge, painful urination, conjunctivitis, sore throat, or in women, spotting after intercourse and pelvic pain.Interestingly, since 2008, gonorrhoea reports have been on the rise, and it is now the second most commonly diagnosed STI. Unlike chlamydia, more men are affected by gonnorhea, especially in the age bracket 20-24. Statistics have uncovered four times as many Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander reports compared to the number of non-indigenous cases [2].

Chlamydia and gonorrhoea treatment options:

As chlamydia and gonorrhoea are both bacterial infections the treatment is the same.  Antibiotics have been the most commonly prescribed medication by modern medicine. While this has been a bulletproof approach for a number of years, drug-resistant strains are on the rise and effective treatment is becoming more difficult [2].

Nature has generously provided us with broad spectrum antibiotics, that have protective effect on the gut flora, such as: garlic, Goldenseal and Oregon grape. All of these herbs have the ability to target the above-mentioned strains of bacteria [6]. Besides natural antibiotics, Vitamin C and Beta Carotene are powerful immune boosters that halt further spread of the infection and protect against the destruction of genital tissue. Chlorophyll has an amazing ability to oxygenate and stimulate healing of the cervix and upper genital tract. It is best applied topically as a douche. [5].

Herpes

Did you know that 1 in 8 Australians carry the virus that causes herpes?

What is more staggering is, that up to 80% of those who contracted the virus are unaware of being infected. Symptoms often appear weeks after the infection, and sometimes they do not manifest at all. The individual however, could remain a virus carrier [4].

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of this virus: HSV1 is mainly associated with cold sores, while HSV2 with genital herpes. However both viruses can develop into blisters on the lips, genitals or rectum. [4] Spread by kissing and oral sex, a sneaky cold sore can manifest as genital herpes in the partner. Outbreaks tend to surface, when the body’s defences are down. Stress, cold weather and the flu are the most common triggers.

Unlike chlamydia and gonorrhoea, herpes does not usually lead to severe health complications, however it is very uncomfortable and can affect people’s self esteem.

Herpes treatment options:

Zinc and Lysine: these antivirals are both effective at inhibiting HSV virus replication and are best taken together. [5] I recommend Bioceuticals ViroGuard. Nature gave us even a topical treatment for this pesky virus: propolis ointment was found to speed up healing of the lesions faster than acyclovir (Zovirax) [6].

Nutrition-wise, it is best to limit arginine rich foods such as: chocolate, nuts, oats, wheat, peanuts, gelatine and load up on lysine rich foods especially: fish, chicken, bean sprouts and brewer’s yeast. Getting plenty of rest and supporting the immune system with veggies is key to enhance natural healing.

To wrap it up… 

For optimal sexual health, consider obtaining routine checks ups, practising safe sex, and in case of an infection refrain from sexual activities until the body has healed.

Empowered with knowledge and resources, have “THE conversation” with your kids, partners and family members and open up the communication channel.

“Safe sex is an act of self love.” ― Miya Yamanouchi,

Author of Embrace Your Sexual Self: A Practical Guide For Women

References and resources

[1] http://www.sti.health.gov.au/internet/sti/publishing.nsf

[2] http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features10Jun+2012

[3] http://www.news-medical.net/health/Gonorrhea-History.aspx

[4] http://www.sexualhealthaustralia.com.au/genital_herpes.html

[5] The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine 2nd Ed.2008 J. Pizzorno, M. Murray & H.Joiner-Bey

[6] Natural Therapy Miracle: Alternative Solution to the Prescription Drug Problems. 2013. Dr. O. J. Bamidele

 

Click here for a list of public sexual health clinics in your state.


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