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Do you have an STD or are you just paranoid?

Do you have an STD or are you just paranoid?

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Let us guess. You got caught up in the moment and now you’re thinking you caught STDs. We are going to stop you right there and ask you this question.

What makes you think that you have an STD for sure? 

There’s only one way to know: By getting tested for STDs.

Before you panic and decide to get tested, you need to know what STD means. For starters, it means Sexually Transmitted Diseases and it’s NOT another word for AIDS. 

To get a clear idea of what to do, it’s important to know:

  1. How STDs spread
  2. When to get checked for STDs  
  3. Are they curable? 
  4. Risk Factors
  5. Ways to get tested in Sri Lanka
  6. FAQs

This way, you know when and how to get tested for STD and to prevent it at all costs. 

 

How STDs Spread

The sexually transmitted diseases mainly spread through unprotected oral, vaginal and anal sex. Other cases include: 

  • Direct contact with any sores from STDs.
  • Exposure to infected blood.
  • Contact with vaginal fluid or semen.
  • The sharing of needles. 

The majority of the above involve unprotected sex. This makes the sexually-transmitted diseases quite common.

QUICK FACTS

In Sri Lanka, in 2021 more than 250 HIV cases were found. And close to 6500 people were diagnosed with other forms of STIs.

The most common STDs are genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea and chlamydia. [We know these names may sound like Greek but we are about to simplify them.]

Caution: The World Bank claims that only 10-15% of STI cases are reported by government clinics. 

Reason: Some ignore, others simply don’t know because the symptoms don’t always show until it’s too late.

 

When to get checked for STDs?

There are a few things to watch out for, especially after having unprotected sex. 

Common STD symptoms

  • Discharge from the penis or vagina.
  • Pain or burning sensation with urine or bowel movements
  • Painful blisters, itching and ulcers around the genitals, anus or mouth
  • Warts (small, fleshy, mostly painless growths or bumps) around the genitals or anus
  • Lumps around the groin
  • Severe scrotal or pelvic pain
  • Having to go to the bathroom often

Remember, usually STD patients show no symptoms so getting tested every 6 months is the way forward. This way, you can detect the infection at an early curable stage.

On that note…

STD Symptoms by oDoc

Are all STDs curable? 

 

Well, not all of them but it’s not all doom and gloom as you imagine. Here’s the breakdown of a few: 

Incurable STDs

Genital Herpes:

Symptoms: Painful discharge and sores/blisters around genital parts.

Cure: This is a life-long infection. However, regular treatment and counseling can help lead a normal life. 

HIV:

Symptoms: Mouth ulcers, weight loss, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes and all the effects of a weak immune system. This can lead to serious infections, cancers and the globally-hated condition called AIDS and that can be life-threatening.

Cure: There is no cure. But thanks to science and discovery, we now have treatments that control this infection and help patients lead a healthy, normal life. Earlier the detection, easier this is.

STD and safe relationships

Curable STDs

Syphillis:

Symptoms: Early stages include severe sores and rashes. If undetected, it can bring more serious health problems. For instance, tumors, blindness, brain system damage or even death. 

Cure: This is very easy to cure at the early stage. 

Gonorrhea:

Symptoms: Anal itching, pus-like discharge and blood spotting from the rectum, eye pain, sore throats, swollen joints.

Cure: There is medicine to treat the infection.

Genital Warts:

Symptoms: The appearance of cauliflower-like bumps on the genitals.

Cure: Your doctor will prescribe medications and/or surgery to remove and cure warts.

Genital Candidiasis:

Symptoms: Vaginal discomfort and painful sex.

Cure:  There are both oral and topical medications to treat this.

Special note: This is not an STD because this is primarily caused by yeast infection. However, sexual partners can also pass it to you. And this is quite common in Sri Lanka with over 1000 people diagnosed in 2021. 

Conclusion: Get tested early as possible.

Is anyone easily at risk of STDs?

Belonging to one of the below categories, gives another reason to get tested regularly.

  1. Being between the ages of 15-24. The younger your first sexual encounter is, higher the risk is.
  2. Sexual history. If you have new or multiple partners, you need to be asking all the right questions from them. Having unprotected sex is never the right thing to do.
  3. Men who have sex with other men. 
  4. Having a history of STDs. If you have HIV or AIDS, you can easily carry other STDs. 

By now, you should have an idea of when to get tested. Now it’s time to ask ourselves this question

Testing for STD

How to get tested for STD in Sri Lanka?

1.Visit the National STD and AIDS Control Programme. 

  • Open hours: 8am to 4pm – Monday to Friday
  • 8am to 12pm – Saturday
  • Address: No. 29, De Saram Place, Colombo 10.
  • Note: You could visit directly or place on appointment via https://know4sure.lk

2. Visit the STD Clinic by Colombo South Teaching Hospital.

  • Open hours: 8am to 3:30pm – Monday to Friday
  • 8am to 12pm – Saturday
  • Address: No. 43, Sri Sunandarama Road, Kalubowila

    3.Visit the Family Planning Association.

  • Open hours: 8:30am to 4:30pm – Monday to Friday
  • Address: 37/27, Buller’s Lane, Colombo 7.
  • Dial +9411 255 5455 to check to make an appointment.
  • Services: Consultations for HIV and other STD related queries and screening tests for syphilis, herpes, HIV and Hepatitis B. 

Note: We advise not to self-assess and take any of the tests. The first step is to consult a professional and let them direct you to the next steps. 

  1. Talk to your doctor or venereologist via oDoc.

This takes a few minutes and if only needed you will be asked to come in for a physical examination.

What to expect when you get tested?

  1. Be prepared to be transparent about your sexual history.
  2. You will also be physically examined based on your symptoms.
  3. Blood or urine samples or swabs will be taken to carry out the tests.

Good luck, you got this! Whatever it is, it will be okay.

FAQs

Okay, so what happens if you get diagnosed with an STD? 

  • It can be sad, confusing and embarrassing. It’s okay to feel that way. 
  • Simply, follow the treatment. Like mentioned above, even the incurable STDs can be controlled. 
  • Always be transparent with your sexual partners. Don’t be that person!
  • Never hesitate to get help from counselors and therapists. You are not alone. 

Will an STD cure on its own?

No, it doesn’t. By ignoring symptoms and regular health check, you are putting both yours and your partner’s health in danger. 

Are there any vaccines available to prevent this? 

Yes, HIV negative partners can take Pre- exposure prophylaxis (PrRP) and Post Exposure Prophylaxis after Sexual Exposures. (PEPSE). For STI prevention, doctors prescribe Hepatitis B and HPV vaccination. BUT, this is only recommended under the doctors’ guidance. 

IMPORTANT: If you had unprotected sex or got exposed to any STI-related infection, don’t try to self-diagnose, waste money on self-testing kits and go down the rabbit hole on the internet. Instead, get yourself to a doctor or clinic immediately. The easiest way? Download oDoc now!

Sources

  • FPA Sri Lanka
  • AIDS Control
  • Urology Health

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Don’t Let Infertility Get in the Way of Parenthood

Don't Let Infertility Get in the Way of Parenthood

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Every couple dreams of starting their own family – to be able to bear a child, nurture them and see them grow is one of those unique goals that every couple hopes to achieve someday. However, when this long-awaited dream stumbles upon a barrier in the form of infertility, it can be very frustrating. But hey, don’t lose hope yet, because there is a solution.

Want to know more? We reveal a very effective fertility treatment to make your parenthood dreams a reality.

In-Vitro Fertilisation

In-vitro fertilisation or IVF is a type of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). ARTs are clinical methods used to treat infertility, using procedures involving both egg and sperm. 

This week’s blog explores the ART method – ‘In-vitro Fertilisation’ (IVF). With its usual success rates ranging from 35%-55%, it has become a very popular fertility treatment method for couples worldwide and, increasingly, in Sri Lanka too. 

IVF uses a combination of medicines and surgical procedures to aid the fertilisation process between sperm and egg cells. Additionally, after fertilisation occurs, IVF helps the fertilised egg to implant in your uterus. Babies born using IVF (popularly known as test-tube babies) have been healthy and successfully delivered using this method. 

Is IVF the answer for you?

IVF treatment is designed for couples with infertility and genetic problems. Other medical conditions and issues for which IVF can be used are:

  • Fallopian tube damage/blockage
  • Ovulation disorders
  • Endometriosis – When tissue similar to the uterus lining grows outside the uterus
  • Uterine fibroids – Benign tumours in the uterus
  • Impaired sperm production/function – Low sperm mobility and functionality 
  • Low sperm count
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Fertility preservation for cancer treatment – IVF is suited for you if you are about to undergo cancer treatment (chemotherapy/radiation) that could affect your fertility. IVF can help you store your eggs and embryos for later use.

The IVF Process - How does it work?

In-vitro Fertilisation Process

Let’s break down the IVF process. There are  6 main stages.

Stage 1: Suppressing the menstrual cycle

This is the first step of IVF. As you begin your period, hormone tests and an ultrasound scan will be conducted. Afterwards, you will be prescribed birth control pills for 2-4 weeks to suppress ovarian hormones that prevent ovulation (the process of the female body releasing egg cells). This is done to synchronise the eggs to ensure that more eggs will become mature during the second stage. Finally, once birth control pills are stopped, most women get their periods again.

Stage 2: Ovarian stimulation

Synthetic hormones and medications will be used to stimulate your ovaries. This is crucial as IVF requires a woman to develop multiple eggs rather than a single egg (the typical amount a woman produces each month). Multiple eggs are needed to ensure the success of the treatment, as some eggs may not fertilise or develop normally after fertilisation.

Stage 3: Monitoring of eggs

This stage is when your doctor monitors the development of the eggs in your ovaries before collecting them for fertilisation. Vaginal ultrasound scans and blood tests will be done to assess this.

Stage 4: Collection of eggs

Once the doctor confirms that  your eggs are mature and ready for collection, you would have to undergo a clinical procedure to retrieve your eggs from your ovaries.  The mature eggs are removed using an ultrasound probe and a thin needle which is inserted into your vagina. This surgical procedure usually takes about 20 minutes. After this process, mature eggs are placed in a nutritive liquid and incubated.   

Stage 5: Fertilisation

Fertilisation is when the collected egg and sperm samples are mixed and incubated. After a few days, embryos (fertilised eggs) may develop. 

Stage 6: Embryo transfer

The final stage of IVF involves placing the fertilised eggs into the woman’s uterus. The doctor will place the embryos in your uterus using various tools such as catheters and a syringe. After 2 weeks, couples are advised to take a pregnancy test to check whether they are pregnant. If the embryo implants in your uterus lining, this will then indicate a successful pregnancy.

Cost and Price of IVF Treatments

Although IVF has considerable success rates, it is the most expensive assisted reproductive treatment. However, it has been the most sought-out infertility treatment method by most couples due to its success rates, despite its high prices.

Benefits of IVF

Treatment for infertility with In-vitro Fertilisation

So, now that you know what IVF is and what happens in its process, is it worth it? Let’s find out.

  1. Improved chances of having a healthy baby

Did you know IVF procedures involve conducting tests like preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) on a fertilised embryo before transferring it to the uterus? These tests assess any abnormal number of chromosomes and risks of inherited genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis or Tay-Sachs Disease in embryos. So if you use IVF, the chances of your baby being healthy is higher.

  1. Better chances of conception

If natural reproductive methods haven’t helped you and your partner conceive, it’s maybe the right time to look into IVF treatments. With success rates ranging between 35%-55%, it increases a woman’s chances of conception due to it being conducted in a highly controlled process. Furthermore, IVF enhances the chances of a woman being pregnant beyond her 20s too.

  1. Lower risk of miscarriage

Since tests like PGT are conducted during IVF, they can identify the most genetically viable embryos. Miscarriages mainly occur due to chromosome abnormalities, so IVF’s capability to ensure that the best embryos are placed in a woman’s uterus reduces the possible risk of miscarriages caused by genetic and chromosomal abnormabilities. 

  1. More control over family planning

Advancements in modern science, such as IVF, are unquestionably great innovations. If you are a busy couple or feel that you aren’t ready for parenthood yet, IVF lets you decide when you want to conceive by cryopreserving your eggs or embryos  until you are ready for parenthood.

Risks of IVF Treatments

  1. Multiple births 

If more than one embryo is placed in your uterus, the risk of having multiple births increases. This could cause complications with early labour and the baby’s weight.

  1. Premature births and low birth weight 

Previous research proves that IVF slightly increases the chances of a baby being born early or with a low birth weight, which could be unhealthy for the baby.

       3. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome 

This occurs when certain hormones and medications are used to induce ovulation during IVF, and the ovaries become swollen and painful. Symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and bloating would occur.

       4. Miscarriage  

Miscarriage can be a very unpleasant experience. However, despite the advanced tests conducted in IVF, due to various issues in fertilisation, such as the possibility of chromosomal variation and more, even IVF has a similar risk of miscarriage – a percentage similar to women conceiving naturally. Therefore, a successful conception cannot be guaranteed entirely, even with this procedure.

Other risks include possible bleeding and damage to the bowel, bladder and blood vessels during the collection of eggs and an increased risk of cancer and ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo implants outside the uterus). It is vital to be educated about the benefits and risks of IVF to decide whether IVF is the right option for you.

From where can I get IVF treatment?

If you are interested in seeking IVF treatments, you must consult a gynaecologist who will provide you with the necessary advice and information. In addition, they will diagnose any medical conditions or issues that have prevented you from successfully conceiving before recommending this treatment option. 

You can consult a gynaecologist via oDoc to discuss comprehensively with them whether IVF is right for you. They will help you achieve your dream of becoming a parent and educate you on the best option for conception.

In-vitro Fertilisation treatments with oDoc

References

  1. In vitro fertilisation, Mayo Clinic
  2. In vitro fertilisation process, Midwest Reproductive (PA)
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Menopause: The Great Ending of The Menstrual Cycle

Menopause: The Great Ending of The Menstrual Cycle

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The menstrual cycle – the epitome of the reproductive cycle, which gives birth to life and plays a significant role in the transition from girlhood to womanhood, is considered nature’s phenomenon, gifted to women (minus the agonising PMS symptoms, of course). And after decades and decades of operating the same painful cycle every month, a woman’s menstrual cycle decides to retire into solitude in the mature years of her life.. (great news, right?!) 

But do you know what really happens in this ending stage of a woman’s menstrual cycle? 

This week’s blog unravels the grand (or rather, long-served) ending of this extraordinary cycle: ‘Menopause’. Keep reading as we explain each stage of menopause and how you can prepare for it.

What is menopause?

As the word suggests, menopause involves the permanent pause of a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is the period that indicates the end of a woman’s menstrual cycle, where usually, if a woman has gone 12 months without her menstrual period, she is said to be having her ‘menopause’.

When does menopause occur in a woman’s life?

It usually occurs between the ages 40 and 50.

The female sex hormones - partners in crime

Before we dive in deeper, it’s important to know the two main female sex hormones- oestrogen and progesterone. Oestrogen is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics in a young woman and functions such as menstruation, ovulation and pregnancy. Similarly, progesterone also plays an equally significant role in the menstrual cycle, ovulation and pregnancy. They are indeed two hormones tirelessly working hand in hand in a woman’s body!

The stages of menopause

stages of menopause
  1. Perimenopause

This is the first stage that leads up to menopause. Perimenopause is the period in which a woman’s body makes the transition from having an active menstrual cycle to menopause (menopausal transition). Several changes in hormonal levels occur. In this stage, oestrogen levels begin to rise and fall unproportionately. Furthermore, menstrual cycles may either increase or decrease, causing irregular periods. Women may also have menstrual cycles despite ovaries not releasing an egg (ovulation). During this stage, it is possible for symptoms related to menopause, like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, etc., to be present.

  1. இறுதி மாத விடாய்

Menopause occurs when the female body stops producing the hormones that cause menstrual cycles. These hormones include oestrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. A woman would then not get her period for 12 months consecutively.

       3. Post-menopause

This is the final stage of menopause in which a woman hasn’t experienced her period for over 12 months. The body produces significantly fewer amounts of hormones (oestrogen and progesterone), and women will no longer experience a monthly period nor can get pregnant for the rest of their lives. During this stage, the symptoms of menopause may linger around; however, they are less intense.

Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause

  • ஒழுங்கற்ற மாத விடாய் சுழற்சி

Due to hormonal changes in the perimenopause stage, the duration of time between periods may become longer or shorter. Also, period flows may range from light to heavy, while missing periods are common.

  • Hot flashes and sleep problems

A hot flash is the sudden feeling of warmth in the upper body. These intense feelings spread over the face, neck and chest areas and skin may redden, causing sweating as well. Often, hot flashes may happen at night, causing inconvenience during sleep.

  • Decreased fertility

During the menopausal period, a woman’s ovulation starts to become irregular. This decreases the ability to conceive. Although, it’s important to note that it’s still possible for a woman going through perimenopause to get pregnant, therefore if you are a woman suspecting that you are going through perimenopause and still have your periods regularly, it is advisable to use birth control until you haven’t got your period for more than 12 months.

  • Mood changes

A woman may undergo several mood swings, irritability and an increased risk of depression during the perimenopausal period.

  • Changes in sexual function/libido

As a woman’s testosterone and estrogen levels drop, it becomes more difficult for her to get aroused, and this causes issues with libido and sexual drive.

symptoms of menopause

Other symptoms

  • Loss of bone – Calcium deficiency in bones
  • Vaginal and bladder problems
  • Increased hair growth on areas such as the face, chest, neck

Not having it with menopause? Fret no more, we give you healthy tips to make this period in your life easier below!

Lifestyle changes for better management of menopause

managing menopause

Menopause is a natural process that all women experience once their reproductive cycles reach maturity, and it may be an uncomfortable experience for most women. However, here are some methods in which the symptoms of menopause can be controlled better to reduce its discomfort.

  1. Consume foods rich in vitamin D and calcium

Vitamin D and calcium have proved to improve bone health. As a woman undergoes menopause, hormonal changes result in the weakening of bones, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Foods like yoghurt, milk, fish and eggs are good sources of these nutrients.

  1. Maintain a moderate/healthy weight

During the menopause period, hormonal changes, aging and lifestyle causes weight gain. This would increase the risk of cholesterol and diabetes.

  1. Exercise regularly

Exercise and work out sessions have been proven to improve sleep and mental health of menopausal women. Therefore, regular exercise may subside the sleep issues menopausal women undergo.

  1. Ensure a consistent intake of a protein-rich diet

Proteins help reduce muscle loss and increase overall body strength in women experiencing menopause.

  1. Consume foods abundant in phytoestrogens such as soya beans, tofu, flaxseeds

Phytoestrogens are a source of dietary oestrogen from naturally occurring plant compounds that have the same function as oestrogen in human bodies. Thus, phytoestrogens may play a vital role in hormonal balance during menopause and reduce symptoms like hot flashes.

When to see a doctor

It is advisable to meet with a gynaecologist if you experience

  • Vaginal bleeding after not having a period for 12 months
  • Recurring or chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Bleeding after sex
  • Abdominal pain

These signs may indicate more serious underlying medical conditions that need to be diagnosed to begin early treatment. Every woman’s menopausal period is unique and different to one another. If you are experiencing difficulty managing your uncomfortable menopause symptoms, the SLMC-registered gynaecologists on oDoc will help you navigate them, providing improved health and well-being.

Sources

  1. Menopause – Symptoms and Causes, Mayo Clinic (2020)
  2. Perimenopause – Symptoms and Causes, Mayo Clinic (2021)
  3. 11 Natural Remedies for Menopause Relief, Healthline (2022)
  4. Menopause, The University of Utah (2022)
  5. Bleeding after menopause: Is it normal? Mayo Clinic (2020)
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Endometriosis

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Your Little Girl’s First Period

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