Sexually transmitted infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, protozoans, and even animals. Bacterial vaginosis and chancroid are both infections caused by bacteria, which means that they can be treated with antibiotics. While bacterial vaginosis only affects people with vaginas, chancroid disproportionately affects people with penises. You can seek diagnosis and treatment for bacterial vaginosis and chancroid at a Planned Parenthood health center, as well as health clinics, private health-care providers, and health departments.
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of bacteria species in the vagina. Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Bacterial vaginosis seems to be most commonly caused by the bacteria species Gardnerella vaginalis. Scientists aren’t quite sure how this infection is caused, but risk seems to correlate with a change in sexual partners, having multiple sexual partners, douching, or using an intrauterine device; it can also occur in females who have never been sexually active. It is more common in pregnant women. There is no counterpart to this infection in males, although G. vaginalis can be found in their urethras; this raises the possibility that bacterial vaginosis can be sexually transmitted, in which case it could be directly transmitted between two females or indirectly transmitted from one female to another via a male.
Bacterial vaginosis seems to result from an imbalance in the vaginal flora (“flora” is a somewhat fanciful term for the bacteria that live in your body; under normal circumstances they are harmless and even beneficial). Vaginas usually are habitat to a population of bacteria called Lactobacillus, which produce hydrogen peroxide as a byproduct. When the number of Lactobacillus declines, G. vaginalis is able to move in on Lactobacillus’ old territory. The decrease in Lactobacillus and increase in G. vaginalis leads to a rise in the vagina’s pH. The new vaginal environment is less acidic and more alkaline; a vaginal pH of more than 4.5 is one criterion for the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis. Another symptom includes a vaginal discharge that may smell somewhat fishy. There might also be genital itching or pain during urination. It is also possible not to have symptoms. Continue reading
Posted in Sexual Health
Tagged antibiotic, antibiotics, bacteria, bacterial vaginosis, chancroid, circumcision, discharge, douche, douching, erythromycin, G. vaginalis, Gardnerella vaginalis, H. ducreyi, Haemophilus ducreyi, intrauterine device, IUD, Lactobacillus, lesion, lymph node, lymph nodes, metronidazole, pelvic inflammatory disease, PID, pregnancy, pus, sexually transmitted disease, sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infection, sexually transmitted infections, sore, STD, STDs, STI, STIs, ulcer, uncircumcised, vagina, vaginal bacteria, vaginal discharge, vaginal flora, yogurt
Cranberry products have a reputation for fighting urinary tract infections. But is this reputation deserved? Image: FreeDigitalPhotos net
An increased urge to urinate. A burning sensation when you do. These are two of the signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI), an incredibly unpleasant condition that can seem to come out of nowhere. Anyone can get a UTI, but among adults they are about 50 times more common in females than in males. Certain microorganisms cause these infections, often when bacteria from feces are introduced into the urinary tract. Although symptoms often clear up without medical intervention, it is very important to seek treatment for a persistent UTI because the infection could spread and become much more serious. (If you are or have been sexually active, it is also important to make sure you don’t actually have a sexually transmitted infection.)
Cranberry products – either as juice (sweetened, unsweetened, or blended with other fruit juices) or capsules – are considered by many to be an effective home remedy for UTIs. While cranberries are a well-known and accessible treatment, the evidence for their efficacy is not very strong. Why, then, are they such a popular treatment? It could be due simply to the placebo effect, an amazing phenomenon in which our expectations help shape our experiences. It could be that symptoms often clear up on their own, but we attribute our improvement to whatever remedies we happened to be trying at the time. It could be that drinking extra fluids (e.g., cranberry juice) helps flush the bacteria from our bodies as we urinate more. Or, it’s possible that cranberries do help clear up UTIs, but we just don’t have solid evidence yet. Continue reading
Posted in Sexual Health
Tagged antibiotic, antibiotic resistance, antibiotics, bacteria, Cochrane Collaboration, cranberries, cranberry, cranberry capsules, cranberry juice, E. coli, Escherichia coli, fimbriae, folk remedies, folk remedy, home remedies, home remedy, immune response, immune system, inflammation, pili, pilus, placebo, placebo effect, randomized clinical trial, rUTIs, UPEC, urinary tract infection, urinary tract infections, urine, uropathogenic E. coli, UTI, UTIs
Condoms are the only contraceptive device that does double duty in preventing pregnancy and STI transmission. But will men’s birth-control options expand?
Many have wondered why there is not a male equivalent to the Pill. The short answer to this question is that the release of one egg is easier to prevent than the flow of millions of sperm. The longer answer to that question includes a litany of failures in the search for such technology. Currently, however, there are some interesting developments in male birth control.
The condom, of course, is the only birth-control method to do double duty in reducing risk for both pregnancy and STI transmission, but many heterosexually active males would like more options than the tried-and-true rubber, and their female partners, despite having expanded contraceptive options – including the Pill, the patch, and the IUD – might prefer for the men in their lives to help shoulder the birth-control burden.
One method under investigation is ultrasound, a technology that has been around for quite some time. Though scientists have been aware of its contraceptive potential since at least the 1970s, most studies have been conducted on nonhuman animals (though human trials could be on the horizon). Ultrasound involves the application of high-frequency sound waves to animal tissue, which can absorb the sound waves’ energy as heat. The possibility for ultrasound’s use for contraception operates on the idea that briefly heating the testes, which in mammals are normally kept a few degrees below core body temperature, can halt sperm production, leading to temporary infertility for about six months. Additionally, ultrasound could affect cells’ absorption rates of ions, which itself could create an environment unfavorable to spermatogenesis. Its extremely localized effects on animal tissues make ultrasound an attractive candidate for research.
One small study conducted on five dogs applied ultrasound to the canine testicles three times over a period of a few days. The researchers compared sperm count before the procedure to two weeks after the procedure. After the ultrasound treatments none of the canine sperm samples contained sperm. Side effects included tender testicles that had been reduced in volume. Continue reading
Posted in Birth Control
Tagged acrosome, baking soda, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, birth control, clinical trial, clinical trials, condoms, contraception, contraceptive devices, copolymer, dimethyl sulfoxide, DMSO, ductus deferens, Katharine McCormick, Margaret Sanger, ovum, Parsemus, polymer, Reversible Inhibition of Sperm under Guidance, RISUG, scrotum, SMA, sodium bicarbonate, sperm, sperm count, spermatogenesis, styrene maleic anhydride, Sujoy Guha, testes, testicles, the Pill, ultrasound, urethra, vas deferens, Vasalgel, vasectomy