KATHMANDU: Sex — seeing or hearing this word will automatically grab one’s attention making one more inquisitive. Unfortunately, the reason is ‘it’ being associated with taboo and this can cost one dearly.
It is often heard that sex is something very natural. This is evident as Dr Rakesh Aswani, Associate Professor at Universal College of Medical Sciences, Bhairahawa says, “Many youngsters indulge in sexual activity leading to Sexually Transmitted Diseases, commonly known as STD, that can be transferred from one person to another.”
The point is that parents may not talk about sex openly with their children and just say that it is ‘bad’, but the reality is youngsters’ inquisitive nature and age will make them find things out on their own no matter what. Due to which they may not even know what STD really is except HIV/AIDS.
But there are other STDs as well such as chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhoea, syphilis, et cetera. “Out of these, the most common ones in Nepal are gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV,” adds Dr Aswani.
Also STDs are generally found among the young generation, male homosexuals and sex workers. A specific age group would be “20 to 40”.
So a person can get infected with STD only through sexual intercourse? “Mostly yes, but any form of sexual activity where there is semen and vaginal discharge involved, STD will be transferred and also through blood transfusion.”
Therefore, even due to oral and anal sex, STDs can be transferred. Other than these, there is another medium as well and Dr Aswani adds, “It can be also transmitted from mother to a child while she is pregnant.”
Gonorrhoea can cause eye infection or pneumonia to the infant and syphilis can result in still birth and miscarriage.
Does this mean anyone indulging in sex can contract STD? There are chances of spreading infection if one person among the two is infected “but the high risk patients are the ones exposed to multiple sexual partners, the person who has history of prostitution and homosexuals.”
STD is evident, but people refer to a doctor only in the later stages. If STD is not treated on time, then it can cause “sterility, brain damage, heart disease, brain defects, low birth rate, premature birth, death and it can increase risk of some kinds of cancer”.
People are hesitant to consult a doctor because “they fear that their privacy will be invaded”. Thus doctors have to assure that whatever is revealed to them by their patients remains confidential.
Dr Aswani also highlights that irrespective of age, if one is infected with STD, “s/he can consult a doctor without parents’ supervision”. But mostly as youngsters are hesitant “they come alone for check-ups and in very few cases, a girl child is accompanied by her parents”.
However, rarely is the case when an infected person goes to the doctor in Nepal. As STD is treatable “people go to the medical store or to a health worker”. There is a protocol made by the government regarding STD that the health worker ought to adhere to and if this is followed, it’s okay to see the health worker. “But whether they are adhering to the protocol is hard to say as monitoring lacks, which makes it best to consult at a hospital or a clinic,” informs Dr Aswani.
To stop transmission of STD “always use a condom when having sex, do a regular check-up and timely screening of blood”. Other than this, Dr Aswani believes that sex education will lend a helping hand to a large extent. As the age of adolescence is the most volatile age “parents need to talk to their children about sex and even in the school from class VIII to X, children must be provided by sex education”.
As it is, there are “four to five cases of STD in a week who come for check-up”. It is also vital to give youngsters the education because once STD is treated, “it does not give lifelong immunity”.
This makes it essential to point out some of the symptoms of syphilis, which are “papule in the genital area, which is painless”. In gonorrhoea “the area from where you pee, burns and there is pus like secretion. This is extremely painful”. Another vital aspect is that a person may not know that s/he has STD. So, if anyone falls under the aforementioned three categories (sex worker, multiple sexual partners and male homosexuals) “refer to the doctor within a week the mentioned symptoms start to show”.