Hesperian Health Guides
What Is the Best Treatment?
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Is a Treatment Helpful or Harmful?
Although Don Pedro was certain that medicines would solve the problem, Juanita wanted more information before deciding on a treatment. She knew, for example, that home remedies had often helped her mother and grandmother when they were ill. Why, then, did the remedies she had tried fail to work? Here is Don Pedro’s explanation:
|In Juanita’s case, she had used all 3 kinds of remedies:|
Putting plant medicines into the vagina is harmful and should never be done. Plant medicines can irritate the vagina and cause dangerous infections.
|Wrapping plant medicines around the belly is a harmless remedy. It will not make a health problem worse, because the medicines stay outside the body, but it will not help, either.|
Don Pedro told Juanita that she could learn about a particular treatment and how well it works by talking to many different people who have used it. Here are some questions to ask:
- Why do you use this method?
- When do you use it?
- How do you use it?
- What happens when you use it?
- How often does it help the problem?
- Do things ever go wrong?
Think carefully about what different people say about treatments they have used. Then, when you try a remedy yourself, pay attention to what happens to your signs to see if the remedy helps you. Be careful about trying too many remedies at once.
When Juanita returned to see Don Pedro the next week, she told him that she had taken all the pills he gave her but was getting worse and becoming yellow in color. So Don Pedro asked Valeria, a health worker with more training, for help.
Valeria agreed that Juanita had an STI. But because the medicines had not helped, Valeria suspected that Juanita may have a form of gonorrhea that is resistant to ciprofloxacin. Valeria explained that many resistant forms of gonorrhea had come from foreign soldiers at the military base on the coast, who have been infecting the local women when they had sex. Valeria recommended that Juanita go to the city where she could get a more complete exam and be tested for gonorrhea, syphilis (another STI), and cancer. She could also get newer, more effective medicines, if needed.
Risks and Benefits
Juanita went home to think about what to do. She would have to spend most of her family’s savings to pay for a trip to the city and the medicine. Since she would be gone at least two days (the trip is almost 6 hours each way by bus and walking), and her husband was still away at the coast, she would also have to find someone to watch her children while she was gone.
Juanita was afraid that her husband would be angry if he came back and found out that she had spent so much money to see a doctor. But she was also scared that if she did not go she would get worse. Valeria told her that without treatment she could pass the infection on to a new baby if she became pregnant. With time she would probably become unable to have more children, would develop severe pain in her lower belly, and would have problems with her urine system and monthly bleeding. Her husband could also develop many serious health problems.
Juanita felt so uncertain about what to do that she went to see Valeria again. When Juanita explained her fears, Valeria suggested thinking about the problem this way:
- I will feel better and can go on caring for my family.
- I will be able to have more children
- I will not pass the infection on to the baby if I become pregnant.
- Raul may be angry when he finds out.
- I will have to spend some of our savings.
So Juanita went to the city for treatment, where the doctors said it was true that she had gonorrhea and probably chlamydia, but no signs of other STIs or problems. They explained that the medicine she had taken no longer works in her country. They gave Juanita a newer medicine both for her and her husband.