Women are not an exception to experiencing the early symptoms of HIV when they are infected. Although, some do not feel the signs, most often notice them but most times feel they are symptoms of other kinds of ‘small,’ inconsequential medical conditions.
It is important to note that having the symptoms of HIV as a woman is not a gateway to death or perpetual illness because even at the early stage, the symptoms could be knocked out and the patient can lead a very healthy life.
The possible early symptoms of HIV in women
Many symptoms that would be experienced by only women exist due to the body metabolism and difference in body parts when compared to their male counterparts. This is not because the HIV virus for men is different from that of women but a woman, for example, cannot have a penis rash which might be the symptom of HIV in men.
The early symptoms in women include but are not limited to:
- The presence of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). One of the first signs a woman may notice after being infected with HIV is an infection of her pelvic organs which graduates into her ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes. It may come from Chlamydia or Gonorrhea and last for some days or even to spread to other parts before the woman begins to observe or feel the signs. When this situation occurs, many other factors are accompanied which include fever, pain during sexual intercourse, lower abdominal pain, and vaginal discharge.
- Change in menstrual activity. Since HIV occasions change and depletion of the immune system, many parts of the body would be changed alongside their mode of operation. The menstrual cycle of a woman is, therefore, not an exception to these changes as irregularities are bound to happen. These irregularities include heavier flows, severe bleeding during the menstrual periods, missed periods or even unavailability of the period for about 90 days.
- Psychological issues. Psychological issues are not restrictive to only men as women who are infected with HIV also experience it at the early stage. This may occasion anxiety, depression, dementia or sexual dysfunction, as the case may be. When one begins to experience these after exposure to HIV, a test becomes very important.
- Yeast infections. This is another early symptom that an infected woman may experience as it becomes frequent and persistent. In most cases, it could be difficult to cure even with over-the-counter medication because it occurs as a result of imbalance and a weak immune system. When it occurs, the woman may observe some sores in the vagina, burning in the vulva area, odorless discharge from the vagina and pain during sexual intercourse.
- Vaginal ulcer. Although this may be a symptom of many other kinds of infections, it could also form one of the early symptoms of HIV in women. According to the CDC in 2010, about 85 percent of women become infected with HIV via unprotected sexual intercourse with infected men which occasions other STDs that puts the woman’s health at a great deal of risk. According to the group, American Family Physician’s report released in August of 1999, about 5 to 15 percent of women with HIV would develop a vaginal ulcer at the early stage of the infection.
- Fever, Swollen Glands, and Fatigue. The combination of these three (or one of them) is a certain early symptom of HIV in infected women which would occur within days or weeks after contact with the disease. In addition to this symptom, sore throat and mouth ulcer, alongside muscle aches, could also be experienced simply because of the immune symptom that is now susceptible to opportunistic infections.
- Development of STDs. When a woman begins to notice the presence of many sexually transmitted diseases after possible exposure to HIV, it just might be a sign that HIV now lives in the body. This is because HIV increases the tendency of contracting gonorrhea, Chlamydia, HPV, and trichomoniasis, etc.
How can the risk of experiencing HIV symptoms in women be eradicated?
It is possible to live without HIV as a woman if certain preventive and cautionary measures are adhered to. This is because certain habits like having unprotected sex and sharing sharp objects can expose one to it. However, the following ways can help one shield against HIV as a woman. They include:
- The use of condoms during sexual intercourse with men unless the woman knows his HIV status to be negative and faithful to her alone.
- Not sharing needles and other sharp objects with anyone as a woman because it could be a very potent way of transferring the disease.
- Good health hygiene should be maintained especially during menstrual periods to avoid contaminations with any infected objects.
- Regular visits to the doctor for HIV tests or when any symptom is noticed so as to do a valid diagnosis that is distinct from what physical speculations may suggest.
Many women in the world today are living a fine HIV-free life simply because they practiced the above precautionary measures, taking their health as being paramount.
This does not mean that when the symptoms are discovered, antiretroviral drugs cannot help one to live as healthy as possible. The message remains that consistent and regular medical care is a fine practice for everyone today because medical sciences are always willing to help.