I'm Back....to talk about STI's !!!

After a long hiatus (about 5 months), I've decided to rekindle my love affair with blogging. I just started a new Naturopathic practice and it has taken up the majority of my time and energy.
However, this is no excuse. So let me be the first to offer my humblest of apologies for not blogging regularly.
I have also decided to use my real name, its Lesley, hey nice to meet you...and be proud of my blog, promoting it on Facebook and other such online venues.
If you have the good old fb - you can like my professional page - Lesley Johnston, Naturopathic Doctor and Bowen Therapist! Lots of great health tips, recipes and mindfulness based exercises. 

Ok back to the good stuff....

Kids, today's topic is SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES!!  ewwww

What's more fun to talk about than Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes and AIDS?...absolutely nothing!
I just heard a new statistic that the incidence of Chlamydia in the US is on the rise. Really? Have we learned nothing about the practices of safe sex and protecting ourselves and each other since 1907? 

A little history lesson - 

The best known sexually transmitted disease, Syphilis, is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Syphilis was first widely reported by European writers in the 16th century, and some medical historians assume that it was imported into Europe by explorers returning from the New World. Other authorities believe that syphilis is of ancient origin and may at one time have been mistakenly identified as leprosy. At any rate, syphilis first became widely recognized and reported about the year 1500, when a virtual epidemic swept Europe. 

Signs and Symptoms:
There are 4 stages to syphilis - Primary, Secondary, Latent and Tertiary
Primary = painless, firm, non itchy ulceration or chancre on the sexual organ
Secondary = diffuse rash seen on palms of hands and soles of feet
Latent period = no symptoms
Tertiary = gummas (bigger, grosser ulceration), cardiac and neurological symptoms

Previously known as the "clap", its not just fun to say, its also a highly contagious sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Signs and Symptoms:
Men - burning with urination and a discharge from the penis (grey/green)
Women - usually asymptomatic or they will also experience a lovely discharge and pelvic pain
If left untreated, it can also spread to other areas of the body including the heart valves.

As students, we remembered Chlamydia with a little rhyme - Can't see, Can't pee, Can't dance with me. Sounds weird right? Chlamydia is a fun sexually transmitted disease that can also cause urinary problems, blindness and arthritis....yay! It is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and is passed from partner to partner as well as from infected mom to baby in the birth canal.

Signs and Symptoms: 
Women - 50-70% asymptomatic but ladies can also experience pelvic inflammation, painful urination, pain on intercourse and fever. It can also go undetected for months to years...GET YOURSELF CHECKED!
Men - a painful or burning sensation when urinating, an unusual discharge from the penis, swollen or tender testicles or fever. The discharge is lighter in colour than gonorrhea.

HERPES SIMPLEX 2 - It takes 2 to Tango!Just like the Herpes virus that causes cold sores on your lips, there is another Herpes virus (Type 2) that causes genital herpes. The herpes virus will cycle between periods of inactivity and activity where the person will experience symptoms and can transmit to others. The asymptomatic stage can still spread to other people due to viral shedding. Therefore, always better to use caution whether you're experiencing symptoms or not.

Signs and Symptoms:
Genital herpes - infection of the skin and mucus membranes, looks like small red bumps, possibly light on top. (They look like a cold sore on your private parts). They can be sore and itchy.
If at all curious - wikipedia has some great pictures! 

aka Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Genetic research indicates that HIV originated in west-central Africa during the early twentieth century. AIDS was first recognized by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1981 and its cause—HIV infection—was identified in the early part of the decade. Since its discovery, AIDS has caused nearly 30 million deaths (as of 2009). As of 2010, approximately 34 million people have contracted HIV globally. AIDS is considered a disease outbreak which is present over a large area and is actively spreading (pandemic).
Signs and Symptoms:
The initial infection feels kinda like the flu, then there is a latent period of no symptoms. The virus hammers away at the person's immune system and depletes the cells that protect you from pathogens. This makes the person more susceptible to other infections, colds, flus and even tumors.

How diseases are spread: These are sexually transmitted infections - soooo they are spread sexually! Genital to genital, mouth to genital, mouth to mouth (if the infection is already on the mouth) etc.Some are also spread through the birth canal from mom to baby. HIV is also spread through blood transfusions, needle stick injuries and breastfeeding.

How to protect yourself and prevent disease: 
Don't have sex....ok kidding. Practice safe sex with someone who you are familiar with and aware of their health history. This doesn't mean grilling your "one night stand" for their lab results but having an open and honest discussion wouldn't be a bad idea....And maybe check out the goods, if you know what you're looking for, its easy to spot. A full physical exam isn't always the sexiest thing but a quick peak may help.

Treatments for STI's consists of pharmaceutical drugs prescribed from your MD. Your Naturopath can also help with adjunct treatments to help boost the immune system, protect from other outside pathogens and keep morale up. 
If in doubt, book an appointment for a physical exam and blood test with you GP and get checked out.

**Notice there are no pictures in this post, I did that for your own protection. Keepin it PG!