Itchy Testicles – Is it a sign of STDs?

It is common to experience a need to itch every now and then, but if you feel the need to scratch all the time it’s probably time to seek some help. Inadvertently, there would be a concern of any possible sexually transmitted diseases (STD), but not all itches are sexually transmitted. – STD Screening in Singapore

Listed below are some of the more common causes of itchy testicles.


  1. Chafing

Chafing is an irritation of the skin caused by repetitive friction. This is typically caused by inappropriately sized clothing and is commonly experienced by guys doing biking or running. It can happen anywhere on the skin but vulnerable areas are the groin, thighs, underarms and even the nipples. Chafing is easy to prevent though, by wearing the right clothes and using some form of barrier cream/ointment like vaseline to protect vulnerable areas.

  1. Jock Itch

Jock Itch, also known as tinea cruris, this is a fairly common condition seen in gentlemen who exercise a lot or are involved in jobs involving heavy physical activity. This creates a warm, moist environment on the scrotum that is ideal for fungal growth. Common symptoms are an itchy and red rash on the scrotum that can be scaly in nature. Treatment is through the use of oral or topical antifungal medications. Jock Itch can be prevented by regular change of clothing after heavy exertion as well as use of antiperspirants.

  1. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema triggered by contact with a particular substance. The skin can become red and cracked with blistering and sometimes can resemble jock itch. Common causes of contact dermatitis are new soaps and detergents, so if the new soap/detergent is causing itchy testicles, it might be a good idea to swab back.

  1. Lichen Simplex Chronicus

This is what happens when you leave an itch too long without seeing a doctor. After prolonged itchy, rubbing and scratching of the skin, the scrotum can become lichenified. Like lichen on the trees, the skin can become thick and scaly with accentuated skin fold lines. This is an extremely pruritic chronic itch, and the treatment is usually the use of a strong steroid cream to thin out the lichenified skin. 

  1. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an unpleasant skin condition presenting as reddish rashes with silvery scaling over the whole body. It commonly involves the scrotum and it can be itchy as well. There are also other dermatological conditions which may look similar to psoriasis and can involve the scrotum as well. This is why it is important to see a doctor if there is an odd looking rash over the scrotum that does not go away on its own. 

  1. Pubic Lice

Also known as crabs, Pthirus pubis is a very small insect that parasites humans. Pubic Lice are commonly found attached to the hair in the pubic region but can also be found in other coarse hair elsewhere on the body, for example eyebrows or armpits. Other than the adult insects, eggs known as “nits” can also be found attached to the hair. Pubic lice is normally spread through sexual contact. It is however very easily treatable by over the counter anti-louse preparations. 

  1. Scabies

Sarcoptes scabiei are tiny eight legged mites that live within the human skin. Allergic reaction to the mites, eggs and faeces can lead to an intense itching that is worse at night. Symptoms are a pimple like rash over the scrotum that can be very itchy out of proportion to the rash. Scabies is spread through skin to skin contact and hence can be sexually transmitted. It’s treated with an anti-mite topical preparation known as permethrin. 


The astute reader might realise that not a lot of STDs are found on the above list. The truth is that the majority of STDs do not lead to testicular itching but rather other symptoms like ulcers or discharge. If itchy testicles are still a problem, it is still better to seek a doctor for a medical consultation.

Ureaplasma Symptoms

Signs & Symptoms of Ureaplasma

Ureaplasma are a group of tiny bacteria that can commonly be found in the urinary and genital tracts of men and women. The most clinically relevant type of Ureaplasma species is Ureaplasma Urealyticum, which can cause urethritis (inflammation of the urethra) in men, and bacterial vaginosis in women.

These infections may have few or no symptoms at all for many people, and may only get picked up on routine STD screening or when an individual presents with symptoms from another infection such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhea. For those who develop symptoms directly from a Ureaplasma infection, common presentations would be with pain or burning on passing urine, penile discharge or vaginal discharge, or pelvic/genital discomfort. As their name suggests, these bacteria also hydrolyse urea to produce ammonia, which can result in a strong or unpleasant odour as well.

How is Ureaplasma transmitted?

Ureaplasma is predominantly transmitted through sexual contact (vaginal, anal, and oral sex). However, it is not typically classified as an STD due to its relatively low degree of pathogenicity (ability to cause disease). Although many infections may be asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms, there are still risks for complications including pelvic inflammatory disease and epididymo-orchitis. Studies have also found associations with complications in pregnancy such as preterm labour, as well as infertility in both men and women. As Ureaplasma infection can cause inflammation of the mucous membrane, it can also increase the risk of transmission of other STDs and is commonly found to cause co-infections. 

Testing for Ureaplasma can be done with urine samples or swab tests, and would generally be detected through special cultures or through PCR testing. It would not be detected through a normal bacterial culture for non-STD infections. Treatment of Ureaplasma would generally be a course of oral antibiotics and of course, partner testing and treatment would be recommended as well. STD Testing in Singapore


Next read: 10 things you didn’t know about this STD: Mycoplasma Genitalium

Which Contraceptive Is Most Suitable For You?

Here’s All You Need to Know About Choosing the Right Contraceptive Method!


What are the types of contraception available?

There are many different forms of contraception available and picking one can often be confusing. Contraception can be divided into a few types as detailed below. For the purpose of this article, we will focus more on hormonal contraception and long acting reversible contraception. 

  1. Hormonal contraception
    • Oral pills taken daily – either the combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) which contains both a synthetic estrogen and progestin hormone, and the progesterone only pill (POP), also known as the “mini pill”. 
    • Contraceptive patch (Evra), which contains both estrogen and progesterone, which is stuck onto the skin and changed once a week
    • Contraceptive injection, Depo-Provera, a progesterone-only injection administered in clinic, which lasts 12 weeks
  1. Long acting reversible contraception (LARC)
    • Contraceptive implant (Implanon/Nexplanon), a flexible small plastic rod which is inserted beneath the skin of the upper arm. It contains a progesterone hormone which is slowly released over time and lasts 3 years
    • Intrauterine device – a T-shaped device that sits in the cavity of the womb uterus. It can either be copper (non-hormonal) or hormonal based. The lifespan of the IUD is anything between 3-10 years. 
  1. Barrier methods
    • Condoms or diaphragms 
  1. Emergency contraception
  2. Sterilisation

What sort of considerations should I keep in mind when selecting a form of contraception?

The wide variety of contraception methods available can be intimidating and you may be wondering what suits you best. There are various considerations that will help guide you in selecting the best form of contraception for yourself.

  1. Patient factors

One of the considerations is age, for instance, women above the age of 50 should not take the combined hormonal contraception because their risk of complications like venous thromboembolism (dangerous blood clots in the veins), strokes and cardiovascular disease. 

Smokers above the age of 35 should also avoid combined hormonal contraception for similar reasons. 

For breastfeeding mothers, progesterone-only contraceptives are preferred. This includes the mini-pill, Depo-Provera injection, Implanon and the hormonal IUD. 

  1. Pre-existing medical conditions

If you have pre-existing medical conditions, some forms of contraception may not be suitable.

Estrogen-containing contraceptive methods should be avoided in women with previous medical conditions including a personal or family history of venous thromboembolism, strokes, heart disease, migraines with aura, smoking over the age of 35, high blood pressure. Individuals with a history of breast or any female hormone related cancers, or genital bleeding with no diagnosed cause, should avoid hormonal contraception.

Certain medications can also interact with some forms of contraception, for instance, some anti-epileptic medications may interact with the combined oral contraceptive pill.

Speak to your doctor if you have pre-existing medical conditions or regular medications you take to ensure that the choice of contraception is compatible.

  1. Duration of contraception

Another consideration would be how long you wish to take contraception for. If you are certain that you do not wish to conceive in the next few years then long acting reversible contraception like Implanon or the IUD may be suitable for you. 

Otherwise, shorter acting hormonal methods may be a better choice. However, you should note that even with shorter acting forms of contraception like the pill or Depo Provera injection, while you can get pregnant the moment you stop taking these, some women may find that their periods take several months before the return to normal.  

  1. Lifestyle or practicality 

The type of contraception you choose should also be something that suits your lifestyle. 

If you are able to consistently adhere to taking medication on a daily or weekly basis then hormonal methods like the pill or patch will be suitable for you. However, if you are likely to miss doses, then these will not be the best choice as multiple missed doses will greatly reduce the efficacy of contraception. 

If you pick the Depo Provera injection, then you will have to ensure you are able to make a trip down to the clinic every 12 weeks. 

  1. Concern about side effects or complications 

All forms of contraception come with benefits and side effects. 

Contraception can affect your menstrual cycle. For women with menorrhagia (heavy menses) and dysmenorrhea (painful menses), hormonal contraception can help in reducing these symptoms. The copper IUD causes heavier and more painful periods, so if you are already suffering from these, you should stay away from it. You may not get your period altogether with some forms of hormonal contraception, like the hormonal IUD. Some women may like this but others may prefer to still regularly get their period. 

If you have skin concerns, certain forms of combined oral contraceptive pills can be helpful in reducing acne. 

If weight gain is of paramount concern to you, then certain progesterone only forms of contraception like the Depo Provera injection may not be ideal although research has largely shown that there is no significant weight gain from most forms of hormonal contraception. 

Long acting reversible contraception like the implant and IUD are slightly more invasive as they involve insertion and eventual removal of the device, and these procedures, while simple and can be done in clinic, do come with risks which your doctor will be able to tell you about. 


Ultimately, selection of contraception should be individualised to each patient. Feel free to speak to your doctor to find out what might best suit your health and lifestyle needs. 


Join us on Telegram – https://t.me/dtapclinic or follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/dtapclinic for more medical news and health updates!

7 Common Causes Of Anal Itching

Anal itching, also known as pruritus ani, is a common condition. Some studies have shown that it can affect as much as 1-5% of the population.The reason why cases of anal itching are not always relieved with scratching is because of a self-propagating itch-scratch cycle: the scratching exacerbates the inflammation, causing an irresistible urge to scratch even more.There are many causes of anal itching.

Here are 7 broad groups of conditions that can present with anal itch.


1. Dermatologic conditions

Topical irritants such as Deodorants, Detergent/fabric softener, Hemorrhoid remedies, Soaps, Suppositories, Talcum powder, Tight clothing and Toilet paper dyes and perfumes can cause Irritant dermatitis leading to itching. Atopic dermatitis, Hidradenitis suppurativa, Lichen planus, Lichen sclerosis, Psoriasis and Seborrheic dermatitis are all conditions that can cause anal itch.

2. Dietary irritants

Certain types of foods, when ingested, can become dietary irritants when passed out from the other end. They include foods such as Beer, Caffeine, Chili peppers, Citrus foods, Milk and Tomatoes.

3. Anal conditions

Such as Anal fissures, Chronic constipation, Chronic diarrhoea, Fistula, Incontinence, Prolapsed haemorrhoids, Rectal prolapse, Irritable bowel syndrome, Inflammatory bowel conditions and Skin tags.

4. Infections

Abscesses, Candidal infections (intertrigo), Corynebacterium minutissimum (erythrasma), Molluscum contagiosum, Parasites (e.g., pinworms, scabies), Staphylococcus aureus infections can cause anal itch.A big group of infections are sexually transmitted infections. These infections have to be considered especially in people who partake in anal intercourse.Some of the infections include Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Herpes and Human papillomavirus to name a few.

5. Malignancies/Cancers

Such as Bowen disease, Extramammary Paget disease, Squamous cell carcinoma can present with itch.

6. Medications

Such as Chemotherapy, Colchicine, Neomycin and Quinidine can trigger itch too.

7. Systemic diseases

Aplastic anaemia, Diabetes mellitus, Inflammatory bowel disease, Jaundice, Leukemia, Lymphoma and Thyroid disease can have anal itch as a symptom. In many instances, we may not actually identify any specific cause and label the itch as idiopathic pruritus ani. The itch could also be due to psychological disorders.While many people worry that anal itch is due to a sexually transmitted infection, as you can see above, there are so many reasons why a person may develop an anal itch.

Diagnosis

The most important thing is to seek medical attention so your doctor can assess you and come to a diagnosis.The doctor will take a detailed medical history from you and do a physical examination, including an examination of your perineal area and possibly do a proctoscopy. If need be, we may do some swabs to send off for investigation. The doctor may advise for further investigations such as a colonoscopy depending on what is found and your age group.

Treatment & Prevention

Treatment of pruritus ani should address the underlying cause. The goal of treatment is also to prevent further irritation and moisture in the affected area and avoiding scratching. Patients should be aware of proper hygiene and avoidance of perfumes, dyes, dietary irritants (especially caffeine), and tight clothing.Patients should also keep the area dry and be aware of the itch-scratch cycle. A sedating antihistamine can reduce scratching during sleep. If the itch is very bad, wear cotton gloves or socks on the hands at night to prevent scratching. Patients with hemorrhoidal skin tags that make hygiene difficult can clean the area using a handheld showerhead, squirt bottle, sitz bath, or a bidet. After which, pat the area dry or use a hairdryer set on “cool.” Avoid using soap on the anal area as the skin there is sensitive and can dry out easily. Do not scrub the perineal area with anything including toilet paper.Besides the conservative measures above, low-potency topical steroids can be used for a short duration of time. If the itch persists after treatment, a biopsy can be considered.If you wish to speak to our doctors about the following symptoms, please call us or email us for an appointment at hello@dtapclinic.com

Let’s Size it UP: Truth behind penile enlargement

Penis size has always been something that men are preoccupied with. Most men think that bigger is better. It is also directly linked to their self-esteem and self-confidence. Some men get self-conscious when they’re in the changing room comparing themselves with other men who apparently have bigger penises.  Some even feel that if they are not big enough they may not be attractive to the ladies or adequately satisfy their partners. That is why if you search on the internet for penile enlargement, you will get a lot of different products and services listed in order to help you achieve it. The products include things like pills, creams, massage oils, injections and even surgery. The question is do they really work? Or are they just banking on men’s’ fears and obsessions?

In this article, I will explore some of the popular treatment options available and see if it really works or is it just a waste of your money.

What is normal size?

First of all, let us establish what is considered normal. Do some men feel that they are small, but are they really? Many studies have shown that men who think their penises are small actually have normal-sized penises. It is only considered small if the Stretched Penile Length (SPL) is less than 7cm or 2.8 inches. This is measured from the base of the pubic region to the tip of the penis when it’s stretched. Anything longer than this is considered normal size.

Penis enlargement products:

Pills, creams and lotions

These products usually contain herbs or ingredients that manufacturers claim help to increase penile length. Actually most of them only supposed to help to improve blood flow to boost erection. It doesn’t really change the actual penis size or length.

Vacuum pumps

These pumps work by drawing more blood into the penis causing the penis to swell and get engorged. It might make the penis appear bigger temporarily but prolonged use may damage the tissues in the penis and may cause the erections to be less firm.

Exercises

This is similar to penis massage and sometimes are called jelqing. Using both hands to massage the penis to improve blood flow and hoping to increase the length. This technique may be safer but it is not scientifically proven to work. If not done properly may cause pain  or injury to the penis.

Procedures:

Filler injections

Some clinics in other countries offer filler injections using ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid which is typically used to even out wrinkles. A few small scale studies have shown temporary improvements in penile length and size. However bigger studies are required to establish its efficacy and currently it is not a medically approved procedure in Singapore.

Penile surgery

This would be the most extreme method of penile enlargement. There are different techniques done by different surgeons. So far this is the only proven method of penile enlargement. However, there are several potential risks and complications to consider.

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy

This procedure works by applying low-intensity shockwave to the penis. This helps to increase blood flow and circulation. Some patients experience bigger girth due to the increased blood flow but no change to the penile length. 

Important things that you can do:

Seek medical consult

Speak to a doctor who can advise you whether you have a small penis and what would be suitable for you.

Talk to your partner

You may feel inadequate but your partner may not have any problems with it. Communicate this to your partner so you can discuss what’s best for you. It may not be about size but could involve certain sexual preferences.

Lose weight

Most of the time, the penis may appear smaller due to excess belly fat. After losing weight especially around the tummy area, your penis will appear longer and more obvious.

Trim your pubic hair

A thick bush may make your penis appear hidden and hence smaller than it actually is. Trimming the pubic hair helps to reveal more of it and make it appear longer or bigger.

Bottom line:

Many men believe that increasing the size of their penis will make them more of a man, more attractive or better in bed. However, it’s highly likely that their penis is within the normal range.

Even if you want to make it bigger, there are no proven ways to do it without risk or complications.

Most of the time it boils down to your own perception about what the size of the penis means to you and your partner. So do speak to a doctor or a healthcare professional to ascertain where you lie with regards to penis size and what is best for you. 

DTAP Clinic Receives Sensitivity Training for Working with LGBT+ Patients

Singapore, date – Regional GP+ group DTAP Clinic recently attended its first sensitivity training on working with LGBT+ patients. The online training workshop was conducted by Oogachaga and the T Project, attended by more than 60 doctors, nurses and support staff from Singapore and Malaysia. The responses from the workshop participants were positive and encouraging. 

The training focused on debunking common myths and assumptions as well as teaching good communication techniques for medical professionals in clinical and support scenarios when treating and consulting for LGBT+ patients. Response from the workshop participants was positive and encouraging. 

Better doctor-patient communication with the LGBT+ community

Mr. Leow Yangfa, a registered social worker and executive director of Oogachaga kicked off the training with the first session addressing various commonly held misconceptions and misheld beliefs regarding LGB individuals. He shared with DTAP Clinic’s professionals Oogachaga’s professional expertise and experience when working with Singapore’s LGBTQ+ community. The group commended DTAP Clinic as a valued and important private healthcare provider for many LGBTQ+ individuals, couples and families in the community.

“All our DTAP Clinics have always been committed to providing a safe space for everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender or orientation. Our ethos is to comfort, reassure and treat every patient with a uniformly high standard of care. We are extremely happy to have undergone this training with Oogachaga and the T Project. All of us learned a great deal and truly enjoyed the course”. 

Facts and Bad Assumptions

The second part of the training was conducted by Mr Keeshan Menon, a registered social worker with post-graduate credentials in social work and psychology, and Ms. June Chua, founder of the T Project. Their talk provided key insights into the concept of the continuum of sexuality and the pitfalls of making assumptions. The session was enlivened with positive engagement with questions from the audience and answers from panel. 

“I found this course really useful. Now I understand how certain things I may unintentionally say can be misunderstood by patients. I am more aware on how best to talk to patients and colleagues,” said Joel Wong, a staff from DTAP Clinic.

Aside from empowering all DTAP Clinic staff with the skills to put LGBT+ patients at ease, the course also helped with DTAP Clinics’ internal engagement and communication. The staff and doctors felt more confident and aware of using socially accepted terms and vocabulary when communicating with each other with regards to patient care, avoiding pitfalls when communicating with colleagues, especially with DTAP’s stand on equal opportunity employment. 

About DTAP clinic

Established in 2005, DTAP (Dr. Tan & Partners) clinics, a pioneer of GP plus, or “General Practice with Special Interest” model in Singapore, provides holistic and comprehensive medical care for everyone. We provide basic GP services with a key focus in HIV & STD testing and management, Men’s Health (Andrology), Women’s Health and Chronic Disease Management services. Our clinics are located in Singapore & Malaysia.

10 Things about HPV (Video)

HPV stands for human papillomavirus. HPV is usually harmless and goes away by itself, but some types can lead to cancer or genital warts.

 Here are 10 things about HPV.

1. HPV is incredibly common.

and It is estimated that 8 out of 10 people will get HPV at some point in their lifetime


2. Next… How is HPV spread?

HPV is one of the most common STI and is spread through genital or skin-to-skin contact. The virus can be spread even when no symptoms are evident.


3. The third point is that HPV doesn’t necessarily stay with you forever.

Patients commonly assume that HPV is a lifelong infection that will stay with them always. Most HPV infections clear up on their own and do not cause any problems. However, overtime persistent infection by certain HPV types can cause cancer and other diseases such as warts.


4. There are many strains of the virus.

HPV is not just one virus, but consists of over hundreds straina . Each virus is labeled with a number to distinguish it from the others, and different viruses can target different areas of the body, causing differentdiseases in humans.

HPV is most commonly associated with a risk for certain cancers, including cervical cancer, or oral cancers which involves, the base of the tongue or tonsils. 


5. Next in Cervical cancer

HPV causes more than 99% of cervical cancer cases and Approximately 400 new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed annually in Singapore.  

Cervical cancer ranks* as the 8th leading cause of female cancer in Singapore.


6. In Detection of HPV

A pap smear test is a cervical cancer screening tool that is commonly use to detect cervical cancer or pre-cancerous changes in the cervix.

A more sensitive test like the HPV DNA test can be used to detect certain high risk strains of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer


7. HPV in Men

Men can get HPV and pass it to their partners. HPV has been shown to increase the risk of anal cancer, penile cancer , oral and throat cancers in men.


8. There Is Also a Vaccine that Can Protect You

The HPV vaccine has been shown to be highly effective in protecting people against cervical cancer and warts..

Individuals already infected with HPV should still get vaccinated because the vaccine may protect against additional strains of hpv. However, for maximum benefit, vaccination should occur before an individual becomes exposed to the virus.

Thus it is recommended for preteens to get the vaccine at an early age.

Recently the US Food and Drug Administration expanded its approval of the HPV vaccine to include men and women up to 45 years old As an effort to protect more people from several types of cancer caused by HPV.


9. After HPV Vaccination…

Women should continue to get regular Pap screenings because the vaccine though reduces risk of cervical cancer, does not protect against all HPV types.


10. To Sum Up HPV

The best thing you can do is stay proactive and look after your well-being.

“HPV is something both women and men should be aware and well-informed about, protecting yourself and your loved ones,”

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CD4 Count VS Viral Load – What do you need to know?

The Immune system is made up of a large network of cells that work together to combat infections. Helper T Lymphocytes are a particular type of immune cell that expresses a molecule called the Cluster Determinant 4 (CD4). Helper T lymphocytes are hence commonly known as CD4 cells. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) selectively targets CD 4 cells and uses them as hosts for viral replication. As the virus replicates, it destroys its host cell as it releases new copies of the virus. Therefore, as the viral load (which is a measure of the amount of virus present in the body) increases and the host CD 4 cells will decrease. 

HIV Pro Viral DNA Test

HIV Infection

During the early stages of a HIV infection, viral replication occurs at a very fast rate at the expense of CD 4 host cells. A vicious cycle occurs, wherein an increase in HIV viral load attracts more CD4 cells which get infected and become hosts to further increase the viral load. Within the first few weeks of a HIV infection, the CD 4 count falls precipitously. Such a sharp fall in CD4 cells is the hallmark of a HIV infection. 

Upon diagnosis of HIV, it is crucial that the patient’s CD 4 and viral load are measured. The CD 4 count allows the medical team to determine the state of the immune system and plan the appropriate treatment. If the CD 4 count is below 200 units, the diagnosis of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is established. AIDS is a serious complication of HIV infection and can be fatal, therefore, if the patient is diagnosed with AIDS he/she requires immediate medical attention in a hospital.The viral load will give an indication of how fast the virus is replicating. Current medication used to treat HIV infection targets different parts of  viral replication and interfere in the process of new viruses being produced. Therefore, a fall in viral load after commencing medication is an indicator that the medication is working. 

People Living With HIV

For People Living with HIV (PLHIV), the main goal of therapy is to increase CD4 cell numbers and decrease the viral load to an undetectable level. Monitoring these 2 parameters will guide the treatment regime. In general viral load is measured 2 weeks after starting medications for HIV, then at 4 to 8 week intervals. The expected fall in viral load should be to approximately < 500 copies/ml by week 8 – 16 and < 50 copies /ml by week 16- 24. CD 4 recovery is slower, the first CD4 test is done 3 months after commencing treatment and every 6 months after. In general, a CD 4 count > 300 cell/uL with a low viral load is a good level to ensure that PLHIV does not encounter any opportunistic infections.

Also read: U=U: Science, Not Stigma

CD 4 and Viral load measurements are essential parameters in guiding the medical therapy for PLHIV. Regular check of these parameters ensure that PLHIV are able to maintain an active lifestyle and avoid any infections that may occur due to a lowered immunity.

HIV Screening Singapore


Detox Teas – Do They Work?

Detox teas are a controversial topic. For thousands of years, humans have been trying to rid their bodies of what they believe are toxins. Some historic “detox” practices include bloodletting, enemas, sweat lodges or saunas, fasting, and drinking herbal preparations. Some of these practices were even accepted as medical treatments before the advent of modern medicine. In the age of social media, you might have seen celebrities or even your friends posing with a pack of detox-tea on Facebook or on Instagram.

Detox teas are usually a mixture of tea leaves and other natural ingredients like berries, fruits, spices, herbs and roots.


Do detox teas actually help to detox the body?

Tea is generally considered healthy. Multiple studies over the years have shown an association with tea and health benefits including cardiovascular health, blood pressure regulation, mood regulation, mental performance and maintenance of weight and energy levels too. Tea contains tea flavonoids, polyphenols, in particular catechins and epicatechins and antioxidants which health benefits are still being studied and validated. Whether or not teas slapped with a detox label does what it actually says – remove toxins – is still very debatable. 

The additional natural ingredients may also have health benefits. Many ingredients of traditional medicine are currently being investigated scientifically, and some of them have been shown to have health benefits. 


Real weight loss or just a loss in water weight? 

Most of these detox teas do contain tea leaves, and tea does have caffeine. Caffeine is known to be a stimulant which can raise your metabolism. Caffeine can also act to suppress your appetite. Through such a mechanism, you might enter a caloric deficit by burning more calories, and eating less. This kind of weight loss is true weight loss. 

However, certain detox teas do contain supplements which act like laxatives, or medical laxatives itself. The effect of these laxatives are claimed as colon cleansing, which is often recommended as part of a detox plan. Such laxatives can cause cramping, bloating, nausea and vomiting. Dehydration and electrolyte loss can also be a concern. Such a weight loss is mainly water weight loss, and is not healthy, nor sustainable. 


Side effects or dangers of detox teas?

The detox teas that are conservative mixes of tea leaves and natural products are usually not more dangerous than regular teas. However some detox teas may include, in large amounts, natural products that have a prominent biological effect on our body. Some brands may also have additional chemical ingredients that could harm your health.

As mentioned above, diarrhea could be a side effect of these teas. These may be from the laxative effect of natural plant-based sennosides, or actual laxative medications. Excessive diarrhea can lead to dehydration and electrolyte loss, which may leave you lethargic and weak. Some compounds, including caffeine, are also diuretic, which can cause you to pass more urine than normal. Severe diarrhea and dehydration has led to death, so this is a side effect of concern. 

Appetite suppressants or stimulants like caffeine are commonly found in detox teas. Ingesting too many stimulants may leave you irritable, unfocused and jittery, similar to when you drink too much energy drinks. You may also suffer from insomnia if these teas are taken too late in the day. Illegal stimulants like ephedra and medications such as ephedrine have been found in detox teas. These may trigger heart attacks, strokes, seizures and cause even death, especially in people with pre-existing medical conditions. 

Diabetic medications that lower your blood sugar level have been found inside detox teas. People who are on detox teas may also be eating less, contributing to a lower blood sugar level. Such a situation can lead to hypoglycemia, where the sugar level in your blood is dangerously low. This can lead to sweating, confusion, shaking, loss of consciousness and even death.

Some of the herbs that are inside detox teas may have drug-drug interactions with the medications that people are currently taking, raising the levels of the medication in your body to toxic levels. Some herbs themselves if ingested in large enough quantities, may also put strain on your kidney and liver. This has the opposite of detoxing your body, poisoning your body instead. 


Are there any benefits to detox teas?

Not all detox teas are harmful. Tea itself does have health benefits. The other natural ingredients (in conservative amounts) may also serve to improve your health. But please use it with caution and moderation. These teas, if used, should be incorporated into a healthier lifestyle.


Is it healthy to consume detox teas long-term?

The manufacturers themselves do not recommend taking detox teas in the long run. If you do decide to try out a detox tea, stick to the recommended serving guide, and be vigilant about any side effects that may occur. If these side effects are causing you any discomfort, it is recommended that you stop. 


What are some recommendations for detoxing the body in place of consuming detox teas?

The human body is more than capable of clearing out waste products for the vast majority of us. This is what our bodies have evolved to do to keep us alive. Our kidneys, liver, cardiovascular system, gut and skin are all working hard every day to process all of the substances that we come in contact with, and they do a good job at it. The best thing to do is to not add additional burden to the body. 

The very fact that you are considering a detox tea means that you are willing to do something to change your lifestyle for the better. Use this motivation to kick start good habits. The detox tea can be the spearhead in the charge to a better you. 

Also read: Weight Loss Treatment

An overall healthy and balanced diet with whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables, and less red and processed meat is a key component to a healthy life. Processed foods have been shown to be poor in nutrition, laden with salt and fat and contribute to obesity and cardiovascular disease. Unprocessed and minimally processed foods on the other hand are packed full of nutrition, keeps you full for longer and is essential for your bodily functions. Try and limit the frequency and amount of processed foods to a minimum.

Physical activity and exercise is just as important as the quantity and quality of food. The Health Promotion Board of Singapore recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity a week. Health benefits of regular physical activity include a 20 – 50% reduced risk of premature death, incidence of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer and breast cancer, to name just a few. If you are just starting to get into more physical activity, it is always advisable to start slow and ramp up your physical activity slowly. This will help minimize musculoskeletal injuries. The lack of time should not be an excuse to pass on both healthier food options and exercise

It is also advisable to drink lots of water. Water makes up about 60% of our body weight and is essential for our survival. Water gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements. It keeps your temperature normal, lubricates and cushions joints, protects organs and tissues and maintains the electrolyte balance in our body to name just a few. This is the form of detox that definitely has no opponents. 

Getting enough sleep every night is essential as sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health and quality of life. Sleep is the time where the body and brain heals itself and recharges for the next day. Sleep deprivation has been shown to be associated with chronic diseases, decreased mental and physical performance and even reduced immune function. 

Just remember that there are no shortcuts to a healthy lifestyle. That however should not stop you from living the best life. 

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*Parts of this article were first published in CLEO.

Bagaimana jangkitan HPV dan masalah kesihatan yang disebabkan olehnya boleh dicegah?

Apakah itu human papillomavirus (HPV)?

HPV adalah virus yang boleh menyebabkan penyakit kelamin (sexually transmitted disease, STD) dan adalah penyakit STD yang paling kerap berlaku di dunia. Jangkitan HPV dianggarkan berlaku di kalangan sekurang-kurangnya 80 peratus wanita dan lelaki yang telah bermula hubungan seks.  

Apakah gejala atau simptom jangkitan HPV?

Kebanyakan orang yang dijangkiti HPV tidak mempunyai apa-apa gejala kerana sistem ketahanan (imun) badan dapat menyingkirkan virus HPV sebelum apa-apa gejala berlaku.

Walaubagaimanapun, bagi individu yang mempunyai simptom, ketuat (genital warts) boleh dilihat di kawasan alat kelamin. Ketuat juga boleh dilihat di kulit (non genital warts) kerana HPV disebarkan antara kulit. Ketuat kebanyakkanya disebabkan oleh HPV jenis 6 dan 11. HPV jenis berisiko tinggi (high risk strains) boleh menyebabkan penyakit barah di cervix, dubur (anus), vulva dan faraj, zakar dan juga dalam mulut dan tekak (oropharyngeal).  

Bagi penyakit barah cervix peringkat awal, simptom-simptom adalah lelehan faraj berdarah di luar masa haid, selepas menopaus atau selepas hubungan seks. Lelehan faraj yang mungkin berbau juga adalah antara simptom barah cervix.

Bagaimana seseorang boleh dijangkiti HPV?

HPV adalah virus yang boleh dijangkiti melalui sentuhan kulit, melalui hubungan seks (sama ada melalui vagina, oral, zakar atau lubang dubur) atau melalui sentuhan kawasan genital (alat kelamin). Individu tidak boleh dijangkiti HPV melalui sentuhan objek contohnya tempat duduk tandas. 

Disebabkan virus ini boleh dijangkiti melalui hubungan seks, jika individu mempunyai beberapa pasangan seksual, risikonya ditingkatkan. Tambahan pula, kondom hanya memberi perlindungan yang tidak sepenuhnya. Pengisapan rokok juga boleh meningkatkan risiko jangkitan HPV sebanyak 4 kali ganda, bersama juga jika individu mengambil ubat yang melemahkan sistem imun atau mempunyai penyakit yang melemahkan sistem imun. 

Apakah komplikasi penyakit jangkitan HPV?

Seperti dijelaskan di atas, HPV boleh menyebabkan penyakit barah di cervix, vulva, faraj, zakar atau lubang dubur. Ia juga boleh menyebabkan barah tekak, lidah dan tonsil. 

Jenis HPV yang menyebabkan penyakit ketuat tidak sama dengan jenis HPV yang menyebabkan barah. Penyakit barah yang disebabkan oleh HPV selalunya mengambil jangka beberapa tahun untuk berlaku.

Bagaimana jangkitan HPV dan masalah kesihatan yang disebabkan olehnya boleh dicegah? Apakah rawatan penyakit jangkitan HPV?

Vaksin terhadap HPV adalah sangat digalakkan. Vaksin HPV adalah selamat dan berkesan. Keberkesanan vaksin ini adalah setinggi 97% di kalangan individu yang tidak pernah dijangkiti HPV. Vaksin juga bermanfaat jika penerima sudah dijangkiti HPV. 

Jika individu menghidap barah yang disebabkan oleh HPV, rawatan yang diberikan termasuk pembedahan, kemoterapi dan radioterapi.

STDs: Apakah Simtom HIV Dan STD?