Pharmacies play a major role in the provision of treatment services for patients with diseases, ailments and infections. The community pharmacy outlet and sometimes the clinic is a place where majority of patients come to get their health problems solved; perhaps to cut the cost of hospital visits.

A good number of patients feel embarrassed asking for some items or about a diseased condition/infection. This should not be so because the pharmacist/healthcare professional is there to assist you in times like this. So, you are not alone.

Some of these items/diseases/infections/inabilities that make patients feel embarrassed at the pharmacy, to mention a little include condoms, Viagra, Cialis, sexually transmitted disease, yeast infections, erectile dysfunction and others.

Condoms are used during sexual intercourse and they serve as a barrier (protection) against/for STD (sexually transmitted diseases) some of which include HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, gonorrhea etc. Condoms are also intended for other purposes such as for semen collection to treat infertility and as a contraception method to minimize unwanted pregnancy. There could be breakage of the condom during use which will increase the users’ vulnerability to STD.

Ever been embarrasses at the pharmacy?A sexually transmitted disease could be described as an illness that has the probability of transmission between partners by means of human sexual behavior as well as through oral sex, vaginal intercourse and anal sex.

Apart from the sexual means of STD transmission, it can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth, and through blood products or tissue transfer. Occasionally, one can contact STD through other non-sexual means. The STD pathogens are specific to the disease they cause.

Gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhea, chlamydial infection by chlamydia trachomatis, candidiasis by candida albicans and so on.

Candidiasis is also known as vaginal yeast infection and this is commonly seen on females. The causative organism is a fungus; candida and the infection manifests as vaginal irritation, intense itching and swelling.

Yeast infections can be caused by an imbalance in the system that will lead to the overgrowth of the vaginal flora (candida). This imbalance can be as a result of compromised immune system, using douches, pregnancy, antibiotic therapy, hormone imbalance prior to menstrual cycle, poor dieting, stress, inadequate sleep and sometimes uncontrolled diabetes.

Treatment of STD will usually depend on the causative organism, the clinical manifestation of the disease and the severity of the disease. Usually, antibiotic therapies are indicated in STD.

Patients with STD, due to the complicating nature of the disease, should feel free to complain to the healthcare professional/doctors for a proper treatment.

Generally prescribed drugs for yeast infections are antifungal creams and medications (Gynazle, Lotrimin, Monistat and Terazol). Diflucan is also indicated for yeast infections.

A follow up is usually necessary especially in a case where symptoms reoccur within two month; hence the need to adhere to the medications according to the physician’s/pharmacist’s direction.

A commonly seen sex-related issue amongst men is erectile dysfunction. This is sometimes known as impotence described as the inability to develop or maintain a penile erection during sex. This can be drugs (SSRIs, nicotine), surgery, ageing, diseases (diabetes, multiple sclerosis), neurogenic disorders, Peyronie’s disease, arterial narrowing due to smoking (lifestyle), kidney failure and psychological causes (stress, anxiety, mental disorders).

Treatment for erectile dysfunction is initiated in line with the cause. Oral medications and vacuum devices for erection are usually the first line of treatment for ED.  Injection of drugs into the penis and/or penile implants may ensue.

The oral medications include sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra). These are phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors and they act by increasing the penile blood flow, hence erection results. They are the prescription oral therapies for ED.

Injections for erectile dysfunction are papaverine, prostaglandin E1 and phentolamine, vitaros (approved in Canada) is a topical cream for ED. Penis pumps are also used to increase penile blood flow by negative pressure. Surgery is the last line of treatment for erectile dysfunction; the most common being the insertion of artificial rods into the penis (prosthetic implants).

All these diseases and/or disabilities are preventable. Therefore, do not feel embarrassed to talk to the medical practitioner about them when you visit the pharmacy outlet/clinic; you are not alone.