Dr. Sylvester Ikhisemojie
The pregnant state is one in which the changes in hormones and their relationship to the individual are so drastic that some researchers have even termed that condition as, effectively, a third sex; a gender that is neither male nor female but one that has yet to be named. That status confers on the pregnant woman a unique condition in which certain types of vaginal infections actually become rather common in the course of pregnancy. In this essay, we shall be looking at some of these conditions that inevitably cause women some anxiety and also at some similar conditions that appear to worry some pregnant women due to a combination of factors.
These may have to do with ignorance and poverty. It is important to note, however, that the changes which we talked about above are often to blame in making the vagina prone to these infections.
The good news is that when these infections are identified early enough, treatment is usually successful especially when the proper tests are conducted and the other spouse is also promptly treated. Many of these infections are typically mild which aids the ease with which they are treated. Some of these common infections are bacterial vaginosis, syphilis, yeast infections, trichomoniasis, Chlamydia, urinary tract infections (which themselves have various causes) and beta haemolytic streptococci. In order to prevent these infections, the pregnant woman must be extremely sensitive about the care of her genital area. There must be proper washing of the entire region and the underwear must be fastidiously kept clean.
When this minimum is maintained, many of these infections are prevented or easily defeated.
Bacterial vaginosis or BV is one of the most common infections in pregnancy. Indeed, it is so common that roughly one in every four pregnant women is likely to have it in the course of pregnancy. Fortunately, treatment is rewardingly successful and no lingering traces of the infection are left behind following such treatment. It results from an overgrowth of some bacteria within the vagina which if not promptly treated is bound to lead to premature labour and the delivery of low-birth weight babies. This infection is marked by itching around the outside of the vagina, the labia, and the presence of a fish-like smell after having sex. Besides, there is an abnormal kind of vaginal discharge which may be foamy, whitish or watery in consistency. Urination may be accompanied by a burning sensation within the urethra. Treatment is frequently dependent on the results of a culture requested by your doctor. Occasionally, BV can resolve on its own.
Trichomoniasis is another rather common vaginal infection in both pregnant women and women who are not pregnant. It is characterised by vaginal itching, a change in the consistency or the amount of vaginal discharge which can be clear, whitish or yellowish. Occasionally, it may even be greenish. There is also an abnormal redness of the vagina and some level of soreness. More than two-thirds of women who have this infection often do not even know they have it. Treatment is simple with a course of safe antibiotics. It is the most common curable sexually transmitted disease in America and it is caused by an organism known as Trichomonas vaginalis. In pregnancy, it can provoke an early labour with a resulting low-birth weight baby.
Urinary tract infections are caused when microbes from outside the body get into the urinary tract and cause an infection. This is particularly common in pregnancy as the growing abdomen exerts some pressure on the bladder and causes the normal flow of urine to slow. That encourages bacteria to flourish. Besides, in this state, urine is more enriched with hormones and sugars both of which facilitate the growth of bacteria. When this condition is not treated, the infection ultimately can spread up the ureters and into the kidneys thereby causing significant damage. The presence of a urinary tract infection, often just known as UTI, is marked by the presence of a burning sensation when urinating, fever, a feeling to pass urine quite often, frequent urination, an urge to vomit, actual vomiting, cloudy urine or even blood-tinged urine. There may also be low back pain. Often, antibiotics are usually prescribed to clear the infection after the relevant urine culture has been done to identify the bacteria responsible.
Another common infection in pregnancy is caused by the beta haemolytic streptococci which ironically are often found in most adults. They normally live at peace with the person. Such a state is known as commensalism. This organism becomes a real problem in people who have a pre-existing heart disease or diabetes. To a large extent, the pregnant woman is herself safe; the real danger in having these bacteria in the genital tract is that it poses an existential threat to the newborn baby who may be born with pneumonia, meningitis or septicaemia. The latter condition occurs when the bacteria enter the baby’s blood through the umbilical cord and begin to reproduce and multiply in its blood stream. Pregnant women with this infection do not have any symptoms. Usually, they go into labour early and develop a fever around the time of delivery. A low birth-weight baby is a frequent result. Sometimes, though, the baby dies soon after birth or just before being delivered.
Another common infection is Chlamydia, seen very often among young women. It is a particularly common sexually transmitted disease. In pregnancy, it is notorious for causing premature labour and birth. It also causes low-birth weight and is responsible for many cases of intrauterine growth retardation. This is a situation in which the unborn baby fails to grow as expected. Babies who are delivered via such an infected birth passage are prone to suffering infection in their lungs, eyes, throat and nose. In most cases, the woman would have no symptoms. Sometimes, there is frank pus discharging from the vagina. There may also be abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. In most cases, a broad-spectrum antibiotic is enough to deal with the infection. As a precaution, all pregnant women who have new or multiple sexual partners should be screened for this condition.
Finally, syphilis is by no means the least of these infections. It can cause permanent damage to both mother and child. Often, premature birth, intra-uterine death or death soon after birth are real problems it can cause. Brain damage and other injuries to the nervous system can also occur. Once a diagnosis is made of this condition, treatment is often successful.
Ask the doctor
Dear doctor, I read your column of May 20, 2018 on blood sugar level. Sir, I have a high sugar level and visited some medical centres. I have also stopped doing all the things medical staff asked me to avoid. But the sugar level has not gone down even with some drugs. Sir, can you recommend some drugs for me? I am 63 years old. Thanks sir. 0703xxxxxxx
Good day to you as well. It is not clear to me the calibre of medical staff taking care of you. But even in the strictest sense, the blood sugar level is never constant, even in those people who do not have diabetes. What you must do therefore, is to go to a proper hospital, see the doctors and nurses there and avail yourself of the professional treatment plan which they will map out for you. That is the sure way to remain in good health while keeping your blood sugar level under control.
Dear doctor. I am a 16-year-old boy. I always read your column every Sunday. I have noticed that my mates and people younger than me grow hair in their pubic region and armpits. But in my case, my growth is slow and I have small hair. Am I normal? Also, I have noticed that anytime there is a kissing part in a movie, I always get aroused. Is this okay? 0816xxxxxxx
There are different patterns of growth in different individuals. Some people grow very quickly and stop early or grow very slowly as they approach adulthood. Other people have it in the reverse. Now, between these two margins, growth patterns will be determined by your genes, your diet and your overall physical wellbeing. So it is not unusual to have scanty pubic hair at your age just as it is not strange when boys of 10 years have a lot of pubic hair. For your own guidance, you could carefully examine any of your older siblings to be certain that nothing is fundamentally wrong with you. As for feeling some sexual arousal when watching erotic films, that is a normal occurrence at your age and is a signal that you are a normal teenager.
Dear doctor, thanks for all your medical tips. They have been of great help but now I have an issue. I am 36 years old and whenever I wake up in the morning there is always spit in my mouth. Also I don’t see clearly when reading small letters. What is the cause? 0813xxxxxxx
Thank you very much for your comments. To wake up with saliva in your mouth is not an abnormality. Sometimes, it is dependent on what you eat and sometimes also, it depends on your overall health. The latter reason is particularly true if you have not been experiencing this problem and it suddenly begins to occur. That is likely to be the case if you have common illnesses like malaria or when you are placed on certain types of medications. As for your vision, when you are no longer able to read small prints, it is time to see an optometrist for an examination of your eyes. When the problem is determined, you will most certainly be given corrective treatment.
Dear doctor, your column in SUNDAY PUNCH is so helpful. Please my left ankle is a bit swollen and painful. Is there any remedy? 0807xxxxxxx
You will have a useful remedy for most conditions. Since only one ankle is involved, and there is some associated pain, it could be the case that you inadvertently hit it against something without being aware of it or you could even have done so during sleep. Whatever is the case, you would do well to get your doctor to examine the foot and ankle and seek possible clues for your discomfort. That way, you can have proper treatment.
Dear doctor, I greet you. You talked about healthy teeth in SUNDAY PUNCH of July 8. The story touched me. I have removed three of my teeth and it seems now as if a small degree of pain has started to develop in the left side of my molar, like there is a small hole there. What should I do now? 0701xxxxxxx
Everything you needed to deal with the current problem you face was detailed in that essay. At the present time, as you said, what you have is a small hole. So you must go without delay to see a dentist and have them examine the said tooth so that you can have the best possible treatment. By the time the tooth develops a large hole, it might be too expensive to preserve it and you would be faced once more with a fourth extraction.
Dear doctor, I read your fine article in SUNDAY PUNCH. Is getting an offensive mouth odour likely due to tooth extraction some 20 years ago? I didn’t do a filling but now one tooth next to it gives me pains, cavity likely. More of concern to me even though I brush often is that I now suffer from mouth odour. Your kind suggestions and guide are needed please. 0905xxxxxxx
The best thing for you to do as far as I can see is to get to see a dentist, have them examine your mouth in full and follow their recommendations for your treatment. It is not possible for your mouth odour to be due today to an extraction performed 20 years ago; what is far more likely is that there is another cavity in another tooth trapping food particles and basically undergoing fermentation which will smell even though you brush your mouth often.
Dear doctor, thanks for all your health awareness in SUNDAY PUNCH. Please what could be causing ringing in the ears for over a year now? I am 32 years old and have seen several specialists. It is louder when everywhere is quiet. The doctor says my ear drum is intact but sometimes I feel as if fluid is flowing out. Thanks.0803xxxxxxx
Thank you very much for your support through all these years. Ringing in the ears can occur as a result of a specific nerve damage or sometimes as a result of taking certain medications. The nerve damage might occur from certain injuries or infections like viruses. Some common drugs that can cause similar damage leading to ringing in the ears known as tinnitus are Quinine, Gentamycin and Streptomycin. If you were on any of such medications around the time the problem began, you will need to furnish your doctor with that information. If not, then you must see an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon who will determine what has caused your problem and best way to treat it.
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