Promiscuity: A health perspective
We are fast becoming a land of ‘free sex’. While the moral brigade is being termed as ‘backward’ and ‘interfering’ by the cool guys and gals, it would be wise to spend a moment’s thought about which way we are going.
Moral and social ethics apart, sexual promiscuity does have its drawbacks in terms of medical diseases and emotional baggage.
Sexually transmitted diseases include infections like HIV, HPV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, genital warts, herpes simplex, gonorrhoea, chlamydial infections and most cases of leucorrhoea (white discharge).
Certain cancers like cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men are more likely to occur in men or women who get infected with the sexually transmitted virus, the HPV or the Human Papilloma Virus.
Then, there is the risk of unwanted pregnancies, which means more number of abortions.
Who are at higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases?
· Those with multiple partners or whose partner has many partners
· Those who indulge in unprotected sex with strangers or sex workers
· Intravenous drug abusers
· Those undergoing blood transfusion(s)
Those with low immunity or with cuts, wounds or ulcers on genital areas are more likely to contract infections.
What are the signs of a sexually transmitted infection?
· Pain or burning while passing urine, or frequent urination
· Irritation or burning of the genital area
· Pus in urine
· Ulcer(s) in the genital area
· Lump in the groin
· In women, white discharge, especially if foul smelling and associated with pain, painful intercourse or lower abdominal pain, with or without fever
If the partner also has symptoms, it makes the diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection all the more likely.
· The ideal scenario would be the old fashioned monogamous relationship, the one partner norm.
· Proper use of condoms to minimise the risk
· Testing of self and partner prior to marriage (pre-marital counselling) or before indulging in sex
· Avoidance of abnormal sexual practices
Treatment should target all the sexual partners , otherwise, re-infection may result in relapse and chronicity.
Abstinence during the treatment period, till all concerned have been clinically ‘cured’ is important.
Complications of sexually transmitted infections:
1. Infertility in both sexes:
In females –
Blockade of fallopian tubes
Inflammation and damage to the inner lining of the uterus
Thick cervical discharge which prevents entry of sperms into the uterus
In males –
Blockade of the vas deferens in the male
Inflammation of and damage to the testis, epididymis and prostate(male sexual organs).
2. Recurrent urinary tract infections (which increases chances of kidney damage and stone formation)
1. Chronic pelvic pain (formation of adhesions within the pelvic cavity)
2. Painful, heavy periods
3. Chronic white discharge
4. In pregnancy, recurrent urinary and vaginal infections, which may increase the risk of premature delivery, or infections which may get transmitted to the baby.
Emotional fall out of promiscuity
Why do some men or women find it difficult to hold on to one partner?
Sex, for most part, has an emotional component. Being in a stable and emotionally satisfying relationship is the way to go, for a healthy sexual life.
Many dependent and impulsive men and women find themselves in ‘superficial’ relationships as ‘they need to be in a relationship all the time’. One often finds such a person jumping from one relationship to another, as no one relationship seems to be promising.
Some people are unable to express themselves or ‘open up’ in a relationship due to an inherent fear of rejection or of exposing their weak side. As such, they are incapable of ‘emotional intimacy’ and leave their partner ‘cold’. Trust and intimacy form the basis of satisfying relationships. Without these, the relationship may sour.
Are multiple relationships too hot to handle?
Emotional support and stability that comes from a deep, fulfilling relationship cannot be replaced by many fleeting one-night stands.
Because of social conditioning and stigmata, pre-marital or extra-marital affairs may foster fear and guilt. Shifting partners often may cause a person to lose confidence in his or her abilities to sustain a healthy relationship, and lower self esteem. But, whether it makes a person uncomfortable to flit from one partner to another, ultimately, depends on his or her ‘mental make-up’ and attitudes.
With changing social norms and an increasing focus on self gratification, the emotional dynamics associated with sex are fast changing. Which makes it even more important that youngsters be encouraged to indulge in safe and responsible sexual practices.
Dr Suman Bijlani
The author is a leading gynaecologist and obstetrician consulting at the SL Raheja Fortis and Kohinoor Hospitals