THE IMPLICATIONS OF HAVING THE SICKLE CELL TRAIT
This past weekend was packed with activities and a few television shows that I just could not miss; the highly anticipated Royal Wedding on Saturday, The Billboard Awards on Sunday that had one my favourite girl groups of all time performing a medley of their hits, Salt n Pepa then it was the Miss USA pageant on Monday. I personally had a good time just settling down to watch all these shows and thank you guys for holding on till today to get a new post. I shall be posting pictures of my looks from the royal wedding I attended over in Austin as well so look out for those soon.
Today's post as the title suggests is just me talking about what the implications of having the sickle cell trait have been for me as a woman with a bit of the facts also. Having the sickle cell trait does not mean you have SCD but that a person has inherited the sickle cell gene from one of his/her parents. Because a person with the sickle cell trait has only one copy of the gene, they will never develop sickle cell disease but it also means that they can pass the gene for the disease to their children.
SCT generally causes no symptoms but some people with SCT can have blood in their urine and should be checked by a medical professional as this could be a sign of a serious condition. An article I read on www.healthline.com states that "in a study published in the Journal of Thrombosis & Haematosis, researchers found that African Americans with SCT had a two-fold increased risk of developing a blood clot in their lungs and this can become life threatening when it cuts off oxygen supply to the lung, heart or brain"
I have shared a little in a previous post about my past experience as a sickle cell carrier and what that meant for my relationships since it is always advised that we talk to a medical professional when in relationships with SCT partners and are considering marriage or starting a family. Although pregnant women with SCT are not pre-disposed to the same risks as women with SCD, they usually get a lot of urinary tract infections and can also have a kind of anemia caused by not having enough iron in their blood.
There are several variants of the sickle cell trait and sickle cell disease; some of the most common abnormal haemoglobin traits are: SCT (AS)- Haemoglobin C Trait (AC) -Haemoglobin D Trait (AD)- Haemoglobin E Trait (AE), Alpha Thalassemia Trait- Beta Thalassemia Trait.
As an adult African woman, its been challenging to say the least as far as relationships go trying to find someone I am compatible with emotionally and then having to make sure he does not have the sickle cell trait has been like looking for a needle in a haystack. While I have had my fair share of relationships both with partners who had SCT and those that did not, what I found was that in one case, one boyfriend did not care so much about being a sickle cell carrier and was only interested in making a life with me (but with the necessary medical checks of course to determine what the chances were for us in the event that we had children), sadly we had to end our relationship for other unrelated reasons. On the other hand, another boyfriend I had quit the relationship, leaving me heartbroken for a very long time.
As women with SCT, sometimes it almost seems as though we run into the same obstacles as our fellow sisters with SCD, making finding love a next to impossible task. For men with SCT, the implications are mostly non-existent health wise except in extreme rare cases where the following conditions could be harmful for both sexes:
- extreme exercise or training
- increased pressure in the atmosphere
- low oxygen levels in the air
Other than the above, men are not exposed to any specific health issues relating to their sexual performance or their ability to have children and because SCD is predominant among Blacks, I imagine that the ratio of men with the AA genotype to those with the AS and SS genotypes is significantly lower; making the availability of "eligible" black men very limited.
I'm not certain what the right thing to do is here for those of us living with the sickle cell trait who find ourselves in relationships with SCT partners but as advised, we should seek out medical intelligence so we are prepared in advance for whatever may come should we decide on spending the rest of our lives together. Sickle Cell Disease is a heartbreaking and expensive disease to manage and should not be taken lightly when making life long decisions.
Thanks again for waiting guys and I hope you have learned even just a little bit more about the many sides to sickle cell anemia. See ya'll on Thursday.