Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Commonsense Health Care for Gonorrhea

With the recent revelations that one in four American teens is infected with a sexually transmitted disease, it's appropriate in the midst of all the discussion of HIV and STD prevention for adolescents to consider commonsense health care for gonorrhea.

While there are no home remedies for gonorrhea, there are certain supplements it's a good idea to avoid.

One is iron. Increasing the iron supply makes it easier for the microorganisms that cause gonorrhea to "take root" in the linings of the reproductive tract. Anyone who even suspects exposure to gonorrhea should be very careful to avoid iron supplements that are not prescribed by a doctor after diagnosing iron deficiency with a blood test.

Chlorophyll supplements can be problematic, too, because they make it easier for the body to absorb the iron in food. Green leafy vegetables, however, are fine in moderation, up to 2-3 servings a day.

Women who have contracted gonorrhea should quit or at least cut down on smoking. The medical journals report a study of 197 women in hospital for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a chronic, sometimes disabling consequence of long-term infection. Women who smoke were 70 per cent more likely to develop PID than women who do not.

Another study found that women who smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day were more likely to develop PID after infection with gonorrhea than women who smoke 10 or fewer cigarettes a day. If is not possible to quit, even cutting back can help.

Use of the Pill as contraception also increases a woman's risk for gonorrhea infection, especially during the second 14 days of her period. The progesterone in the Pill causes a thickening of tissues in the cervix and changes the chemistry of cervical mucus so that it is easier for gonorrhea to become established. Intercourse during a woman's period increases risk of infection of both partners.

And to put the matter politely, douching any body cavity of either sex prior to penetration increases the risk of contracting an STD.

What about the transmission of gonorrhea to persons who are not sexual partners? How is this STD transmitted?

You cannot catch gonorrhea from a toilet seat, a towel, or a doorknob. Although in rare circumstances the gonococcus can survive up to 3 days in a moist environment, and a newborn can catch gonorrhea while passing through the birth canal if the mother is infected, in 9,999 out of 10,000 cases it is only transmitted by sex.

The best health care for gonorrhea, of course, is prevention: Never be intimate with anyone who is not honest with you about their health status, consider condoms, and get medical treatment for gonorrhea at the first hint of symptoms.

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