Gynaecologists Reveals That Women With STDs Unaware, Don’t Manifest Symptoms Like Men

Gynaecologists Reveals That Women With STDs Unaware, Don’t Manifest Symptoms Like Men

Medical professionals in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology have said sexually transmitted diseases impact women more than men and could lead to infertility if left untreated or poorly treated.

The gynaecologists explained that women are at a higher risk of contracting STDs compared to men due to the wider surface area of the female genital tract in comparison to that of men.

Disclosing this during an interview with PUNCH Healthwise, the physicians noted that most women with STDs are unaware until they go for a test.

One of the experts and a former chairman of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria, Lagos chapter, Dr Joseph Akinde, told our correspondent that women with STDs are asymptomatic and therefore do not seek treatment unlikely the men who manifest the symptoms and go for treatment.

Akinde, who is also the Medical Director of Living Spring Hospital, Ejigbo, a private medical facility,  also said STDs cause more damage in women than in men.

The gynaecologists explained, “In several instances, women, when they have an infection, the infection may be asymptomatic, and yet it is doing the damage.

” But with men, it is always symptomatic. That women do not manifest symptoms does not mean that they do not have it. The disease is in them, but they do not have symptoms.

“For example, if a man comes down with gonorrhoea, he is going to have excruciating pain in the next five days.

But a woman can have gonorrhoea and may not know while the thing is causing serious damage to her system.

“So, STD has a higher damage on the woman than the man.  Women can know that they have it by going for a test. If the woman has problems getting pregnant, if she is married, those are the things that could make her go for a test.”

The physician, however, said that women with STDs might experience low abdominal pain, vaginal discharge as symptoms.

Akinde also pointed out that women are more prone to having STDs.

“The reason being that she has the sickness in her system but she will not know and will be sexually transmitting the infection to a man”, he added.

The gynaecologist further said STDs have a severe impact on women than on men, stressing that women with STDs can experience chronic ill health, chronic pelvic pain, and infertility.

He noted, “It damages their reproductive system. It causes tubal blockage, the woman cannot get pregnant naturally.  STD has a great  psychological and social effect on the women.”

To prevent it, Akinde advised women to be in a stable relationship and avoid multiple sex partners.

He also enjoined them to indulge in a safe sexual practice and stick to one partner.

According to the World Health Organisation, more than one million sexually transmitted infections are acquired every day worldwide, the majority of which are asymptomatic.

“Each year there are an estimated 374 million new infections with one of four curable STIs: chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.

“STIs have a direct impact on sexual and reproductive health through stigmatisation, infertility, cancers, and pregnancy complications and can increase the risk of HIV”, WHO said.

Also speaking,  another maternal health expert and a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Dr Ochuwa Babah, said if diagnosed, gonorrhoea can be effectively treated, urging women who have been treated to ensure that their husbands were also treated to avoid re-infection.

Babah who is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, said pregnant women with gonorrhoea who manage to carry the pregnancy for a longer period are at risk of preterm birth.

The maternal health specialist stated that untreated STIs in pregnancy were associated with more severe outcomes in the neonate such as conjunctivitis, pneumonia, sepsis, and infant death.

The senior lecturer stressed that gonorrhoea in pregnancy requires proper treatment to achieve a full cure, adding that vaginal discharge is the commonest mode of presentation in women with the infection.

“Gonorrhea infection is one of the sexually transmitted diseases. In the past, there used to be this general belief that sexually transmitted diseases cannot occur during pregnancy.
“But, we now have evidence to show that they do occur in pregnancy.

“Gonorrhea in particular is an infection that can occur in about 0-14.2 per cent of pregnancy. The prevalence varies from place to place depending on the behavioural attitude of the people”, she said.

In a 2022 article published in Nature (journal) titled, “Sexually transmitted infections and female reproductive health”, the authors said women are disproportionately affected by STIs throughout their lives compared with men.

According to the authors, this is mainly owing to the higher efficiency of male-to-female transmission of STIs and the biology of the female reproductive tract.

“The larger impact of STIs in women compared with men is in part due to the female anatomy.

“A woman’s urogenital anatomy is more exposed and vulnerable to STIs compared with the male urogenital anatomy, particularly because the vaginal mucosa is thin, delicate and easily penetrated by infectious agents”, the authors said.

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