• Herpes and human papilloma (genital warts) are viral diseases which, once contracted, remain dormant in the blood stream, recurring from time to time even after treatment for an outbreak.
• The bacterial venereal diseases Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are all notifiable diseases and require immediate treatment with antibiotics. Failure to treat these infections as soon as detected may lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
• Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (or PID) is an infection of the whole pelvic area that enters via the reproductive organs. Caused by bacteria in the vagina (including Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis along with others), it spreads up into the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and, in extreme cases, into the abdominal cavity. Even after treatment, PID can leave scar tissue and is a major cause of infertility today.
• HIV-AIDS. Human Immuno Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a vast subject and a highly contentious area regarding its causes and treatments. It is also something outside my present understanding and experi-ence. In conjunction with orthodox medical treatments, some yoga therapists have reported progress in greatly relieving the symptoms and assisting a healing process for individuals with HIV-AIDS.
Excluding HIV-AIDS, symptoms of the other STDs listed above range from sores on the genitals, heavy or irregular periods, discharge from the vagina, pain during intercourse, raised body temperature, swollen and / or tender uterus, and abdominal pain. In the event of such symptoms or any uncertainty about them, you must quickly have a proper medical diagnosis and follow up treatment. At any time there is infection in the reproductive organs, intercourse must not take place until treatment is complete and both partners have been treated to avoid re-infection.
Any woman who exposes herself to an STD, increases the risk of permanently damaging her reproductive organs leading to infertility, particularly if the disease is undetected for some time. If the disease is viral in its nature, such as genital herpes or warts, a mother may risk passing this virus onto her baby during the passage of birth if symptoms are still evident.
The medical and the natural health
approaches to all sexually transmitted diseases are the same, that is prevention is always better than the cure. But an aspiring yogini (female yoga practitioner) looks a little deeper than those who only see condoms as the best and only option for prevention of such diseases.
Over our lives, many of us have made errors of judgement about the men we have let into our bodies. Sometimes those errors only caused temporary emotional and psychic disruption, but for some, the physical legacy has been longer lasting or even fatal.
Any yoga-minded person should exercise the highest awareness when they decide who they are going to share their body with. and where that person may have been before. In tantra, Shakti should always mate with a partner who equals her in self respect, sexual cleanliness and understanding of all the consequences of their union. These issues are just as relevant for a mature women in a steady, long term relationship as they are for a young, unattached single woman. And when we are mothers, we should develop in our own children a positive attitude to sexual health and hygiene by being positive role models in these same areas.
If you have contracted, or been responsible for spreading, any of the STDs in the past, or are undergoing treatment for them at present, you will need to consider doing some psychic cleansing as well as physical cleansing. This involves purifying the faculties of the mind, which may have lead to, and which need to recover from, infected sexual relations. Meditation and Yoga Nidra are both good tools for cleansing and healing the psyche. See sections “Yoga Nidra – Deep Relaxation for the Psyche” page 43, and “Meditation – Mind and Awareness” page 44.
After any type of infection the body needs time and treatment to rebuild strength and vitality of the affected organs. This can be greatly speeded up with yoga methods. In the case of viral diseases one must always be vigilant to keep in good health with a strong immune system so as to minimise the likelihood of flare up. Pregnancy can also be a time of extra strain on your immune system so you need to be well prepared.
For suitable practices whilst an STD persists, see Prescriptive Yoga Program – “Cleansing and Healing” on page 2012. For practices to aid in recovery after symptoms have cleared, and in prevention of recurrence, use the Beginners or Experienced “General Women’s Health” programs on page 2009 according to your level.