April 23, 2024

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Why does Syphilis Increase 23 Times in Japn  Compared to 10 Years Ago?

Why does Syphilis Increase 23 Times in Japn  Compared to 10 Years Ago?



Why does Syphilis Increase 23 Times in Japn  Compared to 10 Years Ago?

The Surprising Cause? The Profound Reason Why “Sexually Transmitted Diseases Are Diseases of Marital Discord”.

In 2023, the number of reported syphilis infections in Japan was about 10 times higher for men and about 23 times higher for women compared to 2013, ten years prior. Among them, the increase in women in their 20s is particularly noticeable.

“Among sexually transmitted diseases, syphilis is quite common in men up to their 50s, while in women, it peaks in their 20s and continues until their 30s, then sharply decreases. However, after the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen changes in this balance,” explains Professor Hiroshi Mikamo from the Department of Clinical Infectious Diseases at Aichi Medical University.

On the other hand, according to the “[JEX] Japan Sex Survey 2024,” 27.3% of women in their 40s and 18.0% of women in their 50s responded that they are “currently having an affair.” Therefore, sexually transmitted diseases are not entirely someone else’s problem, as we may inadvertently risk ourselves. The reporter spoke with Professor Mikamo for more details.

People  often hear the name but rarely understand what the disease is… What is syphilis?

Sexually transmitted diseases refer to diseases transmitted through sexual activity. Among the four major sexually transmitted diseases, statistically, chlamydia overwhelmingly ranks first in the number of cases among women. Following that are herpes, condyloma, and gonorrhea. However, the actual situation in Professor Mikamo’s clinic is that chlamydia is first, condyloma has been increasing recently, and syphilis is overwhelmingly the third.

“All these sexually transmitted diseases are transmitted through mucosal contact. Women are more susceptible to infection because bacteria enter their bodies more easily and are difficult to wash away, and there is a high tendency for mucosal friction. Syphilis, in particular, has periods of spontaneous recovery and a unique progression of the disease, so treatment is often delayed, leading to the problem of spreading the infection during that time.”

While sexually transmitted diseases do not directly lead to death, they often cause various problems. For example, chlamydia can lead to infertility. If syphilis progresses, it can cause serious symptoms such as neurosyphilis, which affects vision and hearing, as well as paralysis. Additionally, if the mother is infected, the unborn child may develop congenital syphilis.

How do women in their 40s and 50s actually contract syphilis?
“Syphilis in women in their 40s and 50s can be broadly divided into two patterns. One is transmitted from a man they meet and start a relationship with. The other is when the husband, without the wife’s knowledge, has an affair and passes it on to his wife. In couples who are not estranged but have a low frequency of sexual intercourse, the latter can occur. And often, this directly leads to divorce,” says Professor Mikamo.

Divorce. Well, that’s understandable, isn’t it? Not only did they do whatever they wanted outside, but they also caused trouble inside the house.

“Ladies are shocked and grieve. So when I tell them the test results, I preface it with, ‘You might argue when you hear the results, but this is a disease of marital discord,’ to ease their feelings. The same goes for chlamydia and condyloma. For those with a spouse, sexually transmitted diseases are diseases of marital discord. If the relationship is good, there won’t be an infection from outside, and if there is an infection even with a good relationship, discord will arise.”

Furthermore, it seems that cases where women get infected with syphilis while having fun with a man outside are increasing.

“Regardless of the case, what is common is that women relatively easily accept the test result of syphilis. Then, the conversation shifts to ‘I was wrong’ or ‘My husband did something outside.’ Through this, many women worry about two things. One is whether they will pass it on to their families. The other is self-blame.”

Concerning not passing it on to their families, it seems that all women are always concerned. I often hear questions like, “Is it okay to share dishes and towels?” or “Should we take separate baths?”

“The other self-blame is feeling like ‘It was my fault for doing this.’ This feeling of blaming oneself can lead to a state close to depression, so sometimes in my clinic, I go beyond the scope of sexually transmitted disease outpatient care and provide counseling. The cause is experienced at a ratio of about 4:1 between men and women, so about 20% of the time, it is initiated by women. I want women to recognize that there is also a risk on their side.”

Why does Syphilis Increase 23 Times in Japn  Compared to 10 Years Ago?


What is the course of syphilis? How is it detected?

Now, let’s learn about the actual symptoms of syphilis.

“Syphilis is characterized by stages from 1 to 4, which is a major difference from other sexually transmitted diseases. After an incubation period of about 10 days to 3 weeks after infection, in the first stage, red nodules or sores appear on the infected genital or oral area, and nearby lymph nodes swell. Once the symptoms disappear, it is often misunderstood as being cured. The second stage occurs 3 to 12 weeks later, with fever, general malaise, and various types of rashes on the skin. Most patients notice something is wrong during this second stage and visit the clinic. This is followed by stages 3 and 4, which can take 10 to 30 years to affect the heart, blood vessels, and brain.”

At the beginning, it was mentioned that the number had increased 23 times compared to 10 years ago. Why did this happen?

“As you can see from the graph, the number of syphilis infections began to increase from 2021. The sharp increase in the proportion of women is also noticeable. The change in lifestyle, such as the diversification of ways to meet people through apps, and the increase in opportunities to have fun with just two people rather than large gatherings, are likely contributing factors. Particularly, syphilis and chlamydia have increased significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because syphilis has an incubation period, one infected person can unknowingly re-infect several others, and there is also the possibility of ping-pong infections, where it is transmitted back and forth between fixed partners.”

Furthermore, Professor Mikamo feels that both men and women are experiencing a faster turnover of couples. With the increase in casual encounters, women seem to have gained a lightness in quickly giving up and looking for the next person, compared to in the past.

“Aside from the possibility that men may have multiple partners, the fact that women are changing partners at a faster rate than before increases the risk of infection for both parties. When changing partners, it may be necessary to be vigilant that the other person may have multiple partners. It is necessary to carefully assess encounters.”

Why does Syphilis Increase 23 Times in Japn  Compared to 10 Years Ago?

(source:internet, reference only)


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