Gay Women and VD

A Personal Experience

I first rang the hospital to check the times of opening and was told that the Special clinic stayed open until 6.30 pm. to allow for people to attend after work. So we arrived there in the middle of the afternoon to avoid the rush. For anyone who is trying to be discreet about attending a Venereal Disease clinic, they might become embarrassed as they find huge notices SPECIAL CLINIC outside the building. So any passers-by that might be watching know full well what you have been up to.

On entering we registered with a very nice receptionist taking note that “Men” one side, “Women” the other. You are then given a little orange card with a number on. It is important you don’t lose this as you are called by number and not name. We then went to the Social Worker’s office, who took us to the Nurse in charge and we were asked to sit down and wait in line with other women. Giving everybody plenty of time for thought as to what each and all have been doing. About 10 minutes later our numbers were called, the voice coming out of a little letter box by a door. So we went in to see our Doctors and I was asked “What symptoms have you got and who and when did I last have intercourse with?” I took a deep breath and told him I hadn’t had intercourse with a man, but sexual relations with a woman. Fast and furious scribblings took place on my notes! More questions about symptoms and then I was put into a little room, whereupon I was asked to remove my underwear. During which time three female nurses charged in for a chat, I wondered what my Doctor had been saying about me. I couldn’t help wondering if they were homosexual too. Just as I finished having my tests done – these being painless but uncomfortable, I saw the doctor whom my colleague was attending, rush in to see my Doctor, have a few words and nodding of the head and rush out again. After the internal examinations I got dressed and went into another corridor for a blood test. There I met my colleague sitting stony faced and obviously annoyed.

It appears her Doctor had asked “What is the problem?” and she answered “No problem. I am here with my girl friend who is having a check up.” “Have you had intercourse?” “I have not” she replied. “Oh! Have you had sexual contact with your friend?” “Yes” she says. He then got up, went out of the room, came back about five minutes later then asked her to get ready for the internal examinations. This caused her great concern and she hesitated at the realisation of what she had to go through. He may be a Doctor, but he was still a male. She therefore froze during the examination, making it more difficult. When he finished he went back to the file and wrote HOMOSEXUAL across it. Now she is not ashamed of being homosexual, but she was quite right in saying that he need not have been so blatant about it. So that the nurses, social worker, receptionist and whoever else might have access to the file would read it and would cause her embarrassment if she had to return again. In order to follow this visit through we telephoned for our results a few days later. Relieved to report that they were both negative. To be fair, it was a well-run clinic and cancer smears were also taken so even if you are a female homosexual do not be put off going there if you need to. After all you are attending a special clinic and we are classed, are we not, by society as something special.

The Homosexual Woman & Venereal Disease

19720914-08In Issue No. 1 of Gay News a Consultant wrote a feature on Venereal Disease mainly concerning himself with the male homosexual and the symptoms which surround these diseases, but female homosexuals are not exempt from them, so I shall try to clarify and enlighten women as to their symptoms and the process of going through a Clinic for treatment.

At one time female homosexual patients used to express surprise that they could in fact have been infected with Venereal Disease by contact with their own sex, but the germ Syphilis (spiral shaped) can only live in warm moist conditions such as those which occur in the vagina, mouth and anus, therefore if a female homosexual often practices “cunnilingus” ie the act of tickling the woman’s clitoris with her tongue, she is therefore spreading the infected area simply by kissing, or if there is a very small abrasion in the anogenital region it will enter and can spread through the body in a matter of hours. I must stress here that Syphilis, if left untreated, can kill. This disease progresses through Four Stages and is identified by diagnosing the germs in the sores and by blood tests.

The First Stage

The first sign of syphilis can make its appearance any time between ten days and twelve weeks after infection. The first sign is usually a single, painless ulcer on or around the sexual organs. Although these ulcers are painless and might even appear to clear up all on their own, they should not be ignored they are highly infectious. In fact, if there is an ulcer on or around the sexual organs, it is always sensible to assume that it is syphilitic until proved otherwise at a clinic. If syphilis is not treated at this stage, it might appear to clear up, but usually all that is happening is that the infection has spread to various parts of the body and that the second stage of the disease is developing. As this first stage can be so easily missed, the only really sensible thing to do is to have a check-up, even if there’s only the remotest chance that you may have caught it.

The Second Stage

The most obvious and most typical sign is a body rash which cannot be missed. Usually this rash doesn’t itch or cause discomfort.

This stage may be accompanied by general signs of ill-health, loss of weight, poor appetite, and so on. Because the rash will eventually disappear, this second stage is sometimes ignored. It is, however, the most acute and highly infectious stage of syphilis.

The Third Stage

If untreated, syphilis will continue to develop, and the possibility of infecting others will remain. This third stage is called the latent stage because it is a time when the infection appears to have disappeared since it shows no symptoms. It can last from a few months to a lifetime.

The Fourth Stage

At this stage, the damage caused by the infection becomes apparent. There is absolutely no means of curing the damage. All that treatment can do is to alleviate the symptoms and prevent complications. In one out of every three untreated cases the disease at this stage may have attacked the heart or brain or any other organ.

Treatment of Syphilis consists of a number of injections of penicillin or another antibiotic, and it may be injected daily for seven to fourteen days. Occasionally, a different, longer-acting preparation may be injected. If the disease has been present for quite a time before the patient goes for treatment, the doctor may decide to institute long-term treatment to make sure that the spirochaetes do not have a chance to survive. It is vital to follow the doctor’s instructions on medication if the disease is to be properly eliminated.

Let us now take a look at gonorrhea.

Gonorrhea is the commonest form of Venereal Disease. Its cause is a fragile germ which survives and multiplies in the sexual organs of a woman and should one woman have had intercourse at any time with a male

and picked it up, the germ may be there without her knowing it. In homosexual women, when one sexual passage comes into direct contact with another, the gonocci have a chance to move – a chance which they usually snap up – and when they are settled

Under the microscope, gonococci, the bacteria causing gonorrhoea, are seen as pink, coffee beanshaped germs, lying inside white blood cells.

in their new home, usually at the neck of the womb, they begin to multiply. Sometimes the gonocci may invade the anus as the vagina is very close. When gonorrhea occurs in the anus and rectum the person may not notice it because the symptoms are very mild. Sometimes, however, they will suffer from a discharge or itching or a feeling of dampness at the anus. Also, there may be mucus (slime) or pus in the faeces (shit). Sometimes the symptoms may be severe with a lot of mucus being discharged and a great deal of pain on defaecating. If the condition remains for a long time untreated, warts may develop around the anus.

In the early stages it is very nearly impossible for a woman to know if she has gonorrhea. She may notice discomfort or tickling and a burning feeling on passing urine. She may pass urine more frequently than usual and there may be a discharge from her vagina. Often, if there is a discharge it is very slight, though it may stain the knickers. Occasionally, the discharge is sufficient to cause a sore patch between the legs. There are all sorts of places that gonorrhea may spread to, but the most complicated is when it spreads up through the womb or uterus and into the tubes leading into it, called the fallopian tubes. Usually, this produces a severe infection of the tubes with pain low down in the abdomen on one or both sides. Often there is a temperature, fever, vomiting, nausea and a headache. The woman looks ill and the doctor may have some difficulty in distinguishing the problem from appendicitis or other emergency conditions of the abdomen.

Diagnosis of gonorrhea in women takes longer. More than one examination may be required. A correct diagnosis can be made by taking a smear of the discharge and other secretions and a sample of blood. Treatment is usually with penicillin and started at once. Often one injection is enough, but patients are asked to return to the clinic for confirmation of a cure.

There is another disease which can affect women and can be transmitted to their sexual partners; it is Candida Albicans. This creature commonly lives on the skin, in the mouth, in the bowels and in the vagina. This causes a vaginal discharge in women. Sometimes the discharge is produced in large quantities causing soreness of the inner thighs and staining of the underwear. The itching may be quite severe, and it is often worse at night, probably because of the added warmth of the bed. It can be severe enough to stop the woman from sleeping and if this continues she will become bad tempered, overtired, unable to cope with things. The itching can also be a problem during the day, and the desire to scratch the offending part can be quite embarrassing. Candida Albicans is discovered by a physical examination when the doctor will scrape the inside of the vagina with a blunt instrument (which is painless) and then examine this under the microscope having stained it with a special chemical to colour the fungus if it is present. The treatment consists of using an antibiotic called Nystatin, which comes in the form of special pessaries or cream. The pessaries are placed in the vagina and the antibiotic is released to cover the inside of the vagina. Sometimes a doctor will paint the inside of the vagina with a dilute solution of gentian violet which also kills the fungus – though one does end up with brilliant purple underwear.

Women are prone to a number of infections in the vagina and any woman who has a persistent discharge which stains the underwear should either consult their own doctor or seek advice at a clinic. It is in the interest of all homosexuals to seek medical advice at once if they suspect that they may be infected.