6 ways STIs affect women differently to men
Have you ever wondered if men and women experience Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) differently? Or perhaps if women got them worse (or more often) then men? Maybe you’ve even wondered if women experience STI symptoms differently in comparison to men? Well Choma, here are a few ways STIs can affect women differently to men.
Women are at a higher risk of infection
The lining of the vagina is thinner and more fragile, and has a larger surface areathan the skin of a penis. This means that it’s easier for bacteria and viruses to get into the vagina. Because the vagina is moist, it also means that bacteria is more likely to grow. You can read more here about why young women are more at risk of STIs, specifically HIV.
Women might not show STI symptoms
This is mainly with common STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Symptoms in women might also show up and then disappear, even though the infection is still there. You can read here about more STIs you might have without knowing.
Women might mistake symptoms of STIs for something else
For men, discharge is not normal so they might immediately know something is wrong if they get discharge. However, for women, discharge is a normal bodily function so it’s easy to think that weird discharge is something other than a STI. Women might mistake STIs for yeast infections since those are so common. Read more here about things you could mistake for a yeast infection.
STIs affect reproductivity
For pregnant women, if a STI is left untreated, it could lead to later complications. An untreated STI could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease which could then lead to infertility (the inability to fall pregnant). Read more here about the impact untreated STIs have on women.
HPV can cause cervical cancer in women
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common STI in both men and women. However, it doesn't normally cause serious health problems in men, but in women it is the main cause of cervical cancer. Read more about HPV and cervical cancer here.
Although women are at higher risk than men when it comes to STIs, speaking to your healthcare practitioner about STIs often can help get the STI prevention and treatment you need to avoid contracting STIs. Speak to your healthcare practitioner about STI screening. Most importantly, remember to practise safe sex every single time Choma; this means using a condom for every time you have sex with your partner.
Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).
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