Tag Archives: Gonorrhea

Straight, No Chaser: What To Do If You Suspect a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)

It’s been a long and productive sex week here at Straight, No Chaser. We’ve run the gamut of common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other genital conditions, and links to many are included within this post. However, many of you have rightfully asked a simple question: “What happens if and when I contract a STI?” This and the next post will look at three scenarios around contracting, managing and living with a STIs.

 STD1 tellapartner

What you should do immediately if you suspect you or your partner has a sexually transmitted infection

  • You first job is to stop the denial. STIs don’t go away on their own. Well, actually herpes does, but it’s more accurate to say it goes into hiding, waiting to return another day. At the first suggestion of any abnormality (e.g. vaginal/penile discharge, the presence of bumps, a rash, warts or ulcers, itching or burning when you urinate, or abnormal smells, etc.), get evaluated. This clearly is an example of it’s better to have it (an evaluation) and not need it than to need it and not have it. STIs cause consequences, including PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), birth defects and any increased incidence of cancer. HPV even causes cancer, and without vaccination, virtually 100% of the sexually active population will obtain it at some point in life.

STD1 women-infertile

  • You must get all your sexual partners evaluated and treated. Ping pong is not just a sport. You getting treated without all of your partners doing so as well is pointless. Even your asymptomatic partners can be carriers of the disease. Sorry folks, but guys are much more likely not to have symptoms even if infected. Don’t let that fact change the reality of who needs to be told and treated (or who could have caused the infection). Not telling your female partners about STIs can have devastating consequences.

std1 hiv

  • You should make a commitment to wearing condoms. Either get over the subjective difference in how sexual intercourse feels with and without condoms, or get more creative to adjust for the difference. The issues are common things happen commonly, and the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you have had a STI, you’re more likely to have others in the future. It’s more likely to be in your social network, and you may be the one who is a carrier (of herpes, for example). Given that STIs “hang out” together like a gang (meaning the same individuals infected with one STI are the ones most likely to have others), you want to avoid contract some of the incurable STIs, such as herpes, HIV or HPV.

 std1 testing

What we will do if you suspect you have a STI

  • When you come to your physician’s office or the emergency room with the possibility that a STI exists, or you know you’ve been exposed to one, you will be treated. This is not a situation in which we wait to treat some of the more common conditions, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Because of the community, dealing with STIs is more of a “treat now, ask questions later” situation. Besides, many individuals are carriers without the presences of symptoms (particularly those with herpes). I must restate: this is neither the time to be bashful or in denial. If it’s syphilis that’s in question, say so. If you have sufficient symptoms, your medical team will figure it out, but it’s better for you if you already know what the likely culprit is.
  • You should not be offended by the questions you will be asked. Physicians are in the treatment business, not the judging business. Expect to have frank conversations about your sexual habits and preferences, with and without your partner(s) present.

std1 hpv-vaccine

  • If a definitive diagnosis is made for certain conditions (e.g. gonorrheachlamydiasyphilis or PID), you will be treated prior to leaving the emergency room unless you have allergies preventing the use of certain medicines. There are two particular considerations for you after you’ve been treated for a curable STI in an office or ER setting, both regarding your resuming sexual activity. First, if cultures were drawn, you should wait to begin sex until after these results have returned. The cultures will clarify exactly which diseases you have and which antibiotics work against them. Normally this would have been an issue, but antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea is a real thing. Additionally, you should wait to begin sex until all of your current partners have also been treated and cleared. You can and will become reinfected from all STIs on more than one occasion.

The final post in this series discusses managing the presence of an incurable sexually transmitted infection.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: STDs – Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea_enHD_1
Some of you are old enough to remember when Gonorrhea was called ‘The Clap’, but do any of you know why it was called that? Read on for the answer. In the meantime, realize how disgusting a disease this is. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that well over 800,000 cases of gonorrhea occur yearly. To make matters worse, have you heard about the new ‘Super Gonorrhea’? Don’t let this happen to you.

Here’s what I want you to know about Gonorrhea:

Gonorrhea

1. It’s a real good reason to wear condoms and a just as good of a reason to wash your hands. Gonorrhea most commonly presents with no symptoms (more often the case in women), but it has two symptoms that won’t let you forget it. It’s the STD that may present with burning upon urination so severe that you feel like you are peeing razor blades. It’s also defined by copious discharge. If you’re exuding white, yellow or green pus, think gonorrhea. As was the case with Chlamydia, it can affect the rectum (proctitis) or a portion of the testicles (epidydimitis), as well as the throat or eyes. Wash your hands after using the bathroom, gents.

PHIL_3766

2. It’s contagious. If you’re sexually active with someone infected, odds are you’ll get it. It can be acquired via oral, vaginal or anal sex, and ejaculation isn’t required for transmission. Even worse, that means you can pass it to your newborn child (There’s even a name for the condition: ophthalmia neonatorum, as seen in the above picture.).
2. Treatment doesn’t prevent you from reacquiring it. If you don’t change the behavior, you won’t change the future risk.

gonorrhea dc

3. If both partners aren’t treated, then neither is treated. This can just get passed back and forth like a ping-pong ball. If you have several sexual partners, you’ll manage to introduce a lot of drama into a lot of lives. If you are treated, you should not engage in sexual activity until one week after your partner has completed treatment.
4. It causes serious complications. PID (pelvic inflammatory disease – a complication of untreated Gonorrhea and Chlamydia) is a serious enough topic to warrant its own post, but untreated infections lead to infertility and an increased rate of tubal (ectopic) pregnancies. Gonorrhea also spreads through the blood and joints. Many of these complications are life-threatening.

gonorrhea stat

5. STDs hang out together. Gonorrhea that goes untreated increases the chances of acquiring or transmitting HIV/AIDS. An infection with Gonorrhea should prompt treatment for other STDs and testing for HIV. It is generally assumed that if you have gonorrhea, you’ve likely been infected with Chlamydia.
6. It is easily prevented and treated. Wear condoms each time, every time. Get evaluated early with the development of signs or symptoms. Discuss the discovery of Gonorrhea with all sexual contacts from the last several months. This is an infection you don’t have to catch.
7. It is now super, but not in a good way. Due to antibiotic resistance, treatment of gonorrhea is becoming more complicated. We are seeing more patients who don’t respond to the first course of treatment. Consider antibiotic resistance if symptoms persists more than three days after completion of treatment.

Now, about The Clap.

gonorrhea1

Traditionally, there have been three theories about why gonorrhea used to be commonly called the clap, only one of which sound legitimate to me.
1. Treatment (allegedly) used to involved ‘clapping’ a book together around the penis to expel the discharge. Not only does that not make sense, I can’t imagine men letting someone smash their penis in that manner, when you could just ‘milk’ the discharge out (no pun intended). This is a very common explanation, though…
2. The clap may be a mispronunciation of the phrase ‘the collapse’, which is what gonorrhea was called by medics when GIs were being infected with gonorrhea in WWII.
3. Finally, perhaps, clap is derived from the French word for brothel, “clapper.” Makes sense if you’re in Paris, but in NY, why wouldn’t it have been called ‘the broth’, because that’s kind of how it looks… Sorry if you’re reading this during breakfast. Then again, I did spare you a picture of genital gonorrhea.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Doctor/Patient Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Talk

stdstudSTD1in25
As an emergency physician, my first consideration is to eliminate life threats.  Along the way, I cure disease and provide a ton of information.  With all of these efforts, I provide a heavy dose of tough love and straight talk meant to empower (and hopefully never belittle).  This is heavy on my mind because this week we’ll be discussing sex – not the pleasant aspects, but those instances when something has gone wrong as a result of sex.

std-statistics-worldwide-infographic

I’ve been on the receiving end of hundreds (more likely thousands) of couples coming in, usually one dragging the other by the ear, attempting to determine if “something’s going on”, and yes, more than a few relationships have left the emergency room dissolved after such conversations.  I would like to have the beginning of such a conversation with you much in the way that I might have with one of these couples.  This is a very appropriate prelude to a conversation about sexuality transmitted infections (aka STIs aka STDs).
Patient: I have a foul smell coming from my vagina.  I know he’s doing something!
Doctor: Can you tell me what it smells like?  Is there any vaginal discharge, rash or other lesions that you’re seeing?
Male partner (who would have been better off saying nothing): It smells like fish!
Patient (after shooting eye lasers at her partner): I am not having sex with anyone but him, so I know he did something!
Male partner: Doc, I’m not doing anything.  She’s the only one I’m with, and I don’t have any symptoms.
Doctor: So each of you only has each other as a partner?
Couple: <nods yes>
Doctor: Would you bet your lives on it?
Couple: <Stunned silence>
Doctor: Well that’s exactly what you’re doing every time you’re having unprotected sex.  Now about that discharge…
This upcoming week we are going to address several of most common and/or most important STIs out there for you to know about.

std red-carpet-celebrities-with-stds

Chlamydia

Gonorrhea

Syphilis

Herpes

Not talking about them, not protecting yourself from them, and not testing yourself for them is truly believing that ignorance is bliss.  In this case, what you don’t know can kill you.  No matter what you think about how ‘good’ it is, it’s not worth risking your life over.  Also, as an additional conversation, I’ll discuss Bacterial Vaginosis.
If you’re sexually active, you really should follow this series. There’s going to be a lot covered. Might I suggest you cover it as well?
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: What To Do If You Suspect a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)

It’s been a long and productive sex week here at Straight, No Chaser. We’ve run the gamut of common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other genital conditions, and links to many are included within this post. However, many of you have rightfully asked a simple question: “What happens if and when I contract a STI?” This and the next post will look at three scenarios around contracting, managing and living with a STIs.

 STD1 tellapartner

What you should do immediately if you suspect you or your partner has a sexually transmitted infection

  • You first job is to stop the denial. STIs don’t go away on their own. Well, actually herpes does, but it’s more accurate to say it goes into hiding, waiting to return another day. At the first suggestion of any abnormality (e.g. vaginal/penile discharge, the presence of bumps, a rash, warts or ulcers, itching or burning when you urinate, or abnormal smells, etc.), get evaluated. This clearly is an example of it’s better to have it (an evaluation) and not need it than to need it and not have it. STIs cause consequences, including PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), birth defects and any increased incidence of cancer. HPV even causes cancer, and without vaccination, virtually 100% of the sexually active population will obtain it at some point in life.

STD1 women-infertile

  • You must get all your sexual partners evaluated and treated. Ping pong is not just a sport. You getting treated without all of your partners doing so as well is pointless. Even your asymptomatic partners can be carriers of the disease. Sorry folks, but guys are much more likely not to have symptoms even if infected. Don’t let that fact change the reality of who needs to be told and treated (or who could have caused the infection). Not telling your female partners about STIs can have devastating consequences.

std1 hiv

  • You should make a commitment to wearing condoms. Either get over the subjective difference in how sexual intercourse feels with and without condoms, or get more creative to adjust for the difference. The issues are common things happen commonly, and the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you have had a STI, you’re more likely to have others in the future. It’s more likely to be in your social network, and you may be the one who is a carrier (of herpes, for example). Given that STIs “hang out” together like a gang (meaning the same individuals infected with one STI are the ones most likely to have others), you want to avoid contract some of the incurable STIs, such as herpes, HIV or HPV.

 std1 testing

What we will do if you suspect you have a STI

  • When you come to your physician’s office or the emergency room with the possibility that a STI exists, or you know you’ve been exposed to one, you will be treated. This is not a situation in which we wait to treat some of the more common conditions, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Because of the community, dealing with STIs is more of a “treat now, ask questions later” situation. Besides, many individuals are carriers without the presences of symptoms (particularly those with herpes). I must restate: this is neither the time to be bashful or in denial. If it’s syphilis that’s in question, say so. If you have sufficient symptoms, your medical team will figure it out, but it’s better for you if you already know what the likely culprit is.
  • You should not be offended by the questions you will be asked. Physicians are in the treatment business, not the judging business. Expect to have frank conversations about your sexual habits and preferences, with and without your partner(s) present.

std1 hpv-vaccine

  • If a definitive diagnosis is made for certain conditions (e.g. gonorrheachlamydiasyphilis or PID), you will be treated prior to leaving the emergency room unless you have allergies preventing the use of certain medicines. There are two particular considerations for you after you’ve been treated for a curable STI in an office or ER setting, both regarding your resuming sexual activity. First, if cultures were drawn, you should wait to begin sex until after these results have returned. The cultures will clarify exactly which diseases you have and which antibiotics work against them. Normally this would have been an issue, but antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea is a real thing. Additionally, you should wait to begin sex until all of your current partners have also been treated and cleared. You can and will become reinfected from all STIs on more than one occasion.

The final post in this series discusses managing the presence of an incurable sexually transmitted infection.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: STDs – Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea_enHD_1
Some of you are old enough to remember when Gonorrhea was called ‘The Clap’, but do any of you know why it was called that? Read on for the answer. In the meantime, realize how disgusting a disease this is. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that well over 800,000 cases of gonorrhea occur yearly. To make matters worse, have you heard about the new ‘Super Gonorrhea’? Don’t let this happen to you.

Here’s what I want you to know about Gonorrhea:

Gonorrhea

1. It’s a real good reason to wear condoms and a just as good of a reason to wash your hands. Gonorrhea most commonly presents with no symptoms (more often the case in women), but it has two symptoms that won’t let you forget it. It’s the STD that may present with burning upon urination so severe that you feel like you are peeing razor blades. It’s also defined by copious discharge. If you’re exuding white, yellow or green pus, think gonorrhea. As was the case with Chlamydia, it can affect the rectum (proctitis) or a portion of the testicles (epidydimitis), as well as the throat or eyes. Wash your hands after using the bathroom, gents.

PHIL_3766

2. It’s contagious. If you’re sexually active with someone infected, odds are you’ll get it. It can be acquired via oral, vaginal or anal sex, and ejaculation isn’t required for transmission. Even worse, that means you can pass it to your newborn child (There’s even a name for the condition: ophthalmia neonatorum, as seen in the above picture.).
2. Treatment doesn’t prevent you from reacquiring it. If you don’t change the behavior, you won’t change the future risk.

gonorrhea dc

3. If both partners aren’t treated, then neither is treated. This can just get passed back and forth like a ping-pong ball. If you have several sexual partners, you’ll manage to introduce a lot of drama into a lot of lives. If you are treated, you should not engage in sexual activity until one week after your partner has completed treatment.
4. It causes serious complications. PID (pelvic inflammatory disease – a complication of untreated Gonorrhea and Chlamydia) is a serious enough topic to warrant its own post, but untreated infections lead to infertility and an increased rate of tubal (ectopic) pregnancies. Gonorrhea also spreads through the blood and joints. Many of these complications are life-threatening.

gonorrhea stat

5. STDs hang out together. Gonorrhea that goes untreated increases the chances of acquiring or transmitting HIV/AIDS. An infection with Gonorrhea should prompt treatment for other STDs and testing for HIV. It is generally assumed that if you have gonorrhea, you’ve likely been infected with Chlamydia.
6. It is easily prevented and treated. Wear condoms each time, every time. Get evaluated early with the development of signs or symptoms. Discuss the discovery of Gonorrhea with all sexual contacts from the last several months. This is an infection you don’t have to catch.
7. It is now super, but not in a good way. Due to antibiotic resistance, treatment of gonorrhea is becoming more complicated. We are seeing more patients who don’t respond to the first course of treatment. Consider antibiotic resistance if symptoms persists more than three days after completion of treatment.

Now, about The Clap.

gonorrhea1

Traditionally, there have been three theories about why gonorrhea used to be commonly called the clap, only one of which sound legitimate to me.
1. Treatment (allegedly) used to involved ‘clapping’ a book together around the penis to expel the discharge. Not only does that not make sense, I can’t imagine men letting someone smash their penis in that manner, when you could just ‘milk’ the discharge out (no pun intended). This is a very common explanation, though…
2. The clap may be a mispronunciation of the phrase ‘the collapse’, which is what gonorrhea was called by medics when GIs were being infected with gonorrhea in WWII.
3. Finally, perhaps, clap is derived from the French word for brothel, “clapper.” Makes sense if you’re in Paris, but in NY, why wouldn’t it have been called ‘the broth’, because that’s kind of how it looks… Sorry if you’re reading this during breakfast. Then again, I did spare you a picture of genital gonorrhea.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: The Doctor/Patient Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Talk

stdstudSTD1in25
As an emergency physician, my first consideration is to eliminate life threats.  Along the way, I cure disease and provide a ton of information.  With all of these efforts, I provide a heavy dose of tough love and straight talk meant to empower (and hopefully never belittle).  This is heavy on my mind because this week we’ll be discussing sex – not the pleasant aspects, but those instances when something has gone wrong as a result of sex.

std-statistics-worldwide-infographic

I’ve been on the receiving end of hundreds (more likely thousands) of couples coming in, usually one dragging the other by the ear, attempting to determine if “something’s going on”, and yes, more than a few relationships have left the emergency room dissolved after such conversations.  I would like to have the beginning of such a conversation with you much in the way that I might have with one of these couples.  This is a very appropriate prelude to a conversation about sexuality transmitted infections (aka STIs aka STDs).
Patient: I have a foul smell coming from my vagina.  I know he’s doing something!
Doctor: Can you tell me what it smells like?  Is there any vaginal discharge, rash or other lesions that you’re seeing?
Male partner (who would have been better off saying nothing): It smells like fish!
Patient (after shooting eye lasers at her partner): I am not having sex with anyone but him, so I know he did something!
Male partner: Doc, I’m not doing anything.  She’s the only one I’m with, and I don’t have any symptoms.
Doctor: So each of you only has each other as a partner?
Couple: <nods yes>
Doctor: Would you bet your lives on it?
Couple: <Stunned silence>
Doctor: Well that’s exactly what you’re doing every time you’re having unprotected sex.  Now about that discharge…
This upcoming week we are going to address several of most common and/or most important STIs out there for you to know about.

std red-carpet-celebrities-with-stds

Chlamydia

Gonorrhea

Syphilis

Herpes

Not talking about them, not protecting yourself from them, and not testing yourself for them is truly believing that ignorance is bliss.  In this case, what you don’t know can kill you.  No matter what you think about how ‘good’ it is, it’s not worth risking your life over.  Also, as an additional conversation, I’ll discuss Bacterial Vaginosis.
If you’re sexually active, you really should follow this series. There’s going to be a lot covered. Might I suggest you cover it as well?
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: What To Do You If You Suspect a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)

It’s been a long and productive sex week here at Straight, No Chaser. We’ve run the gamut of common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other genital conditions, and links to many are included within this post. However, many of you have rightfully asked a simple question: “What happens if and when I contract a STI?” This and the next post will look at three scenarios around contracting, managing and living with a STIs.

 STD1 tellapartner

What you should do immediately if you suspect you or your partner has a sexually transmitted infection

  • You first job is to stop the denial. STIs don’t go away on their own. Well, actually herpes does, but it’s more accurate to say it goes into hiding, waiting to return another day. At the first suggestion of any abnormality (e.g. vaginal/penile discharge, the presence of bumps, a rash, warts or ulcers, itching or burning when you urinate, or abnormal smells, etc.), get evaluated. This clearly is an example of it’s better to have it (an evaluation) and not need it than to need it and not have it. STIs cause consequences, including PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), birth defects and any increased incidence of cancer. HPV even causes cancer, and without vaccination, virtually 100% of the sexually active population will obtain it at some point in life.

STD1 women-infertile

  • You must get all your sexual partners evaluated and treated. Ping pong is not just a sport. You getting treated without all of your partners doing so as well is pointless. Even your asymptomatic partners can be carriers of the disease. Sorry folks, but guys are much more likely not to have symptoms even if infected. Don’t let that fact change the reality of who needs to be told and treated (or who could have caused the infection). Not telling your female partners about STIs can have devastating consequences.

std1 hiv

  • You should make a commitment to wearing condoms. Either get over the subjective difference in how sexual intercourse feels with and without condoms, or get more creative to adjust for the difference. The issues are common things happen commonly, and the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If you have had a STI, you’re more likely to have others in the future. It’s more likely to be in your social network, and you may be the one who is a carrier (of herpes, for example). Given that STIs “hang out” together like a gang (meaning the same individuals infected with one STI are the ones most likely to have others), you want to avoid contract some of the incurable STIs, such as herpes, HIV or HPV.

 std1 testing

What we will do if you suspect you have a STI

  • When you come to your physician’s office or the emergency room with the possibility that a STI exists, or you know you’ve been exposed to one, you will be treated. This is not a situation in which we wait to treat some of the more common conditions, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Because of the community, dealing with STIs is more of a “treat now, ask questions later” situation. Besides, many individuals are carriers without the presences of symptoms (particularly those with herpes). I must restate: this is neither the time to be bashful or in denial. If it’s syphilis that’s in question, say so. If you have sufficient symptoms, your medical team will figure it out, but it’s better for you if you already know what the likely culprit is.
  • You should not be offended by the questions you will be asked. Physicians are in the treatment business, not the judging business. Expect to have frank conversations about your sexual habits and preferences, with and without your partner(s) present.

std1 hpv-vaccine

  • If a definitive diagnosis is made for certain conditions (e.g. gonorrheachlamydiasyphilis or PID), you will be treated prior to leaving the emergency room unless you have allergies preventing the use of certain medicines. There are two particular considerations for you after you’ve been treated for a curable STI in an office or ER setting, both regarding your resuming sexual activity. First, if cultures were drawn, you should wait to begin sex until after these results have returned. The cultures will clarify exactly which diseases you have and which antibiotics work against them. Normally this would have been an issue, but antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea is a real thing. Additionally, you should wait to begin sex until all of your current partners have also been treated and cleared. You can and will become reinfected from all STIs on more than one occasion.

The final post in this series discusses managing the presence of an incurable sexually transmitted infection.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: STDs – Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea_enHD_1
Some of you are old enough to remember when Gonorrhea was called ‘The Clap’, but do any of you know why it was called that? Read on for the answer. In the meantime, realize how disgusting a disease this is. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that well over 800,000 cases of gonorrhea occur yearly. To make matters worse, have you heard about the new ‘Super Gonorrhea’? Don’t let this happen to you.

Here’s what I want you to know about Gonorrhea:

Gonorrhea

1. It’s a real good reason to wear condoms and a just as good of a reason to wash your hands. Gonorrhea most commonly presents with no symptoms (more often the case in women), but it has two symptoms that won’t let you forget it. It’s the STD that may present with burning upon urination so severe that you feel like you are peeing razor blades. It’s also defined by copious discharge. If you’re exuding white, yellow or green pus, think gonorrhea. As was the case with Chlamydia, it can affect the rectum (proctitis) or a portion of the testicles (epidydimitis), as well as the throat or eyes. Wash your hands after using the bathroom, gents.

PHIL_3766

2. It’s contagious. If you’re sexually active with someone infected, odds are you’ll get it. It can be acquired via oral, vaginal or anal sex, and ejaculation isn’t required for transmission. Even worse, that means you can pass it to your newborn child (There’s even a name for the condition: ophthalmia neonatorum, as seen in the above picture.).
2. Treatment doesn’t prevent you from reacquiring it. If you don’t change the behavior, you won’t change the future risk.

gonorrhea dc

3. If both partners aren’t treated, then neither is treated. This can just get passed back and forth like a ping-pong ball. If you have several sexual partners, you’ll manage to introduce a lot of drama into a lot of lives. If you are treated, you should not engage in sexual activity until one week after your partner has completed treatment.
4. It causes serious complications. PID (pelvic inflammatory disease – a complication of untreated Gonorrhea and Chlamydia) is a serious enough topic to warrant its own post, but untreated infections lead to infertility and an increased rate of tubal (ectopic) pregnancies. Gonorrhea also spreads through the blood and joints. Many of these complications are life-threatening.

gonorrhea stat

5. STDs hang out together. Gonorrhea that goes untreated increases the chances of acquiring or transmitting HIV/AIDS. An infection with Gonorrhea should prompt treatment for other STDs and testing for HIV. It is generally assumed that if you have gonorrhea, you’ve likely been infected with Chlamydia.
6. It is easily prevented and treated. Wear condoms each time, every time. Get evaluated early with the development of signs or symptoms. Discuss the discovery of Gonorrhea with all sexual contacts from the last several months. This is an infection you don’t have to catch.
7. It is now super, but not in a good way. Due to antibiotic resistance, treatment of gonorrhea is becoming more complicated. We are seeing more patients who don’t respond to the first course of treatment. Consider antibiotic resistance if symptoms persists more than three days after completion of treatment.

Now, about The Clap.

gonorrhea1

Traditionally, there have been three theories about why gonorrhea used to be commonly called the clap, only one of which sound legitimate to me.
1. Treatment (allegedly) used to involved ‘clapping’ a book together around the penis to expel the discharge. Not only does that not make sense, I can’t imagine men letting someone smash their penis in that manner, when you could just ‘milk’ the discharge out (no pun intended). This is a very common explanation, though…
2. The clap may be a mispronunciation of the phrase ‘the collapse’, which is what gonorrhea was called by medics when GIs were being infected with gonorrhea in WWII.
3. Finally, perhaps, clap is derived from the French word for brothel, “clapper.” Makes sense if you’re in Paris, but in NY, why wouldn’t it have been called ‘the broth’, because that’s kind of how it looks… Sorry if you’re reading this during breakfast. Then again, I did spare you a picture of genital gonorrhea.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Doctor/Patient Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Talk

stdstudSTD1in25
As an emergency physician, my first consideration is to eliminate life threats.  Along the way, I cure disease and provide a ton of information.  With all of these efforts, I provide a heavy dose of tough love and straight talk meant to empower (and hopefully never belittle).  This is heavy on my mind because this week we’ll be discussing sex – not the pleasant aspects, but those instances when something has gone wrong as a result of sex.

std-statistics-worldwide-infographic

I’ve been on the receiving end of hundreds (more likely thousands) of couples coming in, usually one dragging the other by the ear, attempting to determine if “something’s going on”, and yes, more than a few relationships have left the emergency room dissolved after such conversations.  I would like to have the beginning of such a conversation with you much in the way that I might have with one of these couples.  This is a very appropriate prelude to a conversation about sexuality transmitted infections (aka STIs aka STDs).
Patient: I have a foul smell coming from my vagina.  I know he’s doing something!
Doctor: Can you tell me what it smells like?  Is there any vaginal discharge, rash or other lesions that you’re seeing?
Male partner (who would have been better off saying nothing): It smells like fish!
Patient (after shooting eye lasers at her partner): I am not having sex with anyone but him, so I know he did something!
Male partner: Doc, I’m not doing anything.  She’s the only one I’m with, and I don’t have any symptoms.
Doctor: So each of you only has each other as a partner?
Couple: <nods yes>
Doctor: Would you bet your lives on it?
Couple: <Stunned silence>
Doctor: Well that’s exactly what you’re doing every time you’re having unprotected sex.  Now about that discharge…
This upcoming week we are going to address several of most common and/or most important STIs out there for you to know about.

std red-carpet-celebrities-with-stds

Chlamydia

Gonorrhea

Syphilis

Herpes

Not talking about them, not protecting yourself from them, and not testing yourself for them is truly believing that ignorance is bliss.  In this case, what you don’t know can kill you.  No matter what you think about how ‘good’ it is, it’s not worth risking your life over.  Also, as an additional conversation, I’ll discuss Bacterial Vaginosis.
If you’re sexually active, you really should follow this series. There’s going to be a lot covered. Might I suggest you cover it as well?
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: STDs – Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea_enHD_1
Some of you are old enough to remember when Gonorrhea was called ‘The Clap’, but do any of you know why it was called that? Read on for the answer. In the meantime, realize how disgusting a disease this is. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that well over 800,000 cases of gonorrhea occur yearly. To make matters worse, have you heard about the new ‘Super Gonorrhea’? Don’t let this happen to you.

Here’s what I want you to know about Gonorrhea:

Gonorrhea

1. It’s a real good reason to wear condoms and a just as good of a reason to wash your hands. Gonorrhea most commonly presents with no symptoms (more often the case in women), but it has two symptoms that won’t let you forget it. It’s the STD that may present with burning upon urination so severe that you feel like you are peeing razor blades. It’s also defined by copious discharge. If you’re exuding white, yellow or green pus, think gonorrhea. As was the case with Chlamydia, it can affect the rectum (proctitis) or a portion of the testicles (epidydimitis), as well as the throat or eyes. Wash your hands after using the bathroom, gents.

PHIL_3766

2. It’s contagious. If you’re sexually active with someone infected, odds are you’ll get it. It can be acquired via oral, vaginal or anal sex, and ejaculation isn’t required for transmission. Even worse, that means you can pass it to your newborn child (There’s even a name for the condition: ophthalmia neonatorum, as seen in the above picture.).
2. Treatment doesn’t prevent you from reacquiring it. If you don’t change the behavior, you won’t change the future risk.

gonorrhea dc

3. If both partners aren’t treated, then neither is treated. This can just get passed back and forth like a ping-pong ball. If you have several sexual partners, you’ll manage to introduce a lot of drama into a lot of lives. If you are treated, you should not engage in sexual activity until one week after your partner has completed treatment.
4. It causes serious complications. PID (pelvic inflammatory disease – a complication of untreated Gonorrhea and Chlamydia) is a serious enough topic to warrant its own post, but untreated infections lead to infertility and an increased rate of tubal (ectopic) pregnancies. Gonorrhea also spreads through the blood and joints. Many of these complications are life-threatening.

gonorrhea stat

5. STDs hang out together. Gonorrhea that goes untreated increases the chances of acquiring or transmitting HIV/AIDS. An infection with Gonorrhea should prompt treatment for other STDs and testing for HIV. It is generally assumed that if you have gonorrhea, you’ve likely been infected with Chlamydia.
6. It is easily prevented and treated. Wear condoms each time, every time. Get evaluated early with the development of signs or symptoms. Discuss the discovery of Gonorrhea with all sexual contacts from the last several months. This is an infection you don’t have to catch.
7. It is now super, but not in a good way. Due to antibiotic resistance, treatment of gonorrhea is becoming more complicated. We are seeing more patients who don’t respond to the first course of treatment. Consider antibiotic resistance if symptoms persists more than three days after completion of treatment.

Now, about The Clap.

gonorrhea1

Traditionally, there have been three theories about why gonorrhea is called the clap, only one of which sound legitimate to me.
1. Treatment (allegedly) used to involved ‘clapping’ a book together around the penis to expel the discharge. Not only does that not make sense, I can’t imagine men letting someone smash their penis in that manner, when you could just ‘milk’ the discharge out (no pun intended). This is a very common explanation, though…
2. The clap may be a mispronunciation of the phrase ‘the collapse’, which is what gonorrhea was called by medics when GIs were being infected with gonorrhea in WWII.
3. Finally, perhaps, clap is derived from the French word for brothel, “clapper.” Makes sense if you’re in Paris, but in NY, why wouldn’t it have been called ‘the broth’, because that’s kind of how it looks… Sorry if you’re reading this during breakfast. Then again, I did spare you a picture of genital gonorrhea.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com(SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Doctor/Patient Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Talk

stdstudSTD1in25
As an emergency physician, my first consideration is to eliminate life threats.  Along the way, I cure disease and provide a ton of information.  With all of these efforts, I provide a heavy dose of tough love and straight talk meant to empower (and hopefully never belittle).  This is heavy on my mind because this week we’ll be discussing sex – not the pleasant aspects, but those instances when something has gone wrong as a result of sex.

std-statistics-worldwide-infographic

I’ve been on the receiving end of hundreds (more likely thousands) of couples coming in, usually one dragging the other by the ear, attempting to determine if “something’s going on”, and yes, more than a few relationships have left the emergency room dissolved after such conversations.  I would like to have the beginning of such a conversation with you much in the way that I might have with one of these couples.  This is a very appropriate prelude to a conversation about sexuality transmitted infections (aka STIs aka STDs).
Patient: I have a foul smell coming from my vagina.  I know he’s doing something!
Doctor: Can you tell me what it smells like?  Is there any vaginal discharge, rash or other lesions that you’re seeing?
Male partner (who would have been better off saying nothing): It smells like fish!
Patient (after shooting eye lasers at her partner): I am not having sex with anyone but him, so I know he did something!
Male partner: Doc, I’m not doing anything.  She’s the only one I’m with, and I don’t have any symptoms.
Doctor: So each of you only has each other as a partner?
Couple: <nods yes>
Doctor: Would you bet your lives on it?
Couple: <Stunned silence>
Doctor: Well that’s exactly what you’re doing every time you’re having unprotected sex.  Now about that discharge…
This upcoming week we are going to address several of most common and/or most important STIs out there for you to know about.

std red-carpet-celebrities-with-stds

Chlamydia

Gonorrhea

Syphilis

Herpes

Not talking about them, not protecting yourself from them, and not testing yourself for them is truly believing that ignorance is bliss.  In this case, what you don’t know can kill you.  No matter what you think about how ‘good’ it is, it’s not worth risking your life over.  Also, as an additional conversation, I’ll discuss Bacterial Vaginosis.
While you’re waiting for the next post, go back and reread another of the most common sexually transmitted diseases: this post on ‘The Sexually Transmitted Cancer”.  It definitely should be considered required reading for everyone who is sexually active or about to become active, and I would have addressed it first had I not already covered it.  Might I suggest you cover it as well?
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com(SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) – A Really Good Reason Not to Get a Sexually Transmitted Disease

PID1

We’ve previously discussed sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at length, including gonorrhea and chlamydia. One thing that often gets overlooked or not given enough consideration is the risk of complications that occur when contracting a STI. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is one consideration that should be up front and center as a consideration in your mind. If you’re not familiar with the term PID, commit it to memory, as this is a relatively common condition.

PID

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) refers to an infection of the upper genital tract in women. It is usually sexually transmitted. PID is the single most common preventable cause of infertility in the U.S. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 750,000 cases of PID occur in the U.S. every year.
Here’s your concern: PID can negatively affect your reproductive organs, including the uterus (womb), fallopian tubes (tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus) and ovaries. The inflammation caused by PID scars affected organs and can result in infertility, tubal (ectopic) pregnancy, chronic pelvic pain, abscesses (pus pockets, aka “boils”) and other serious gynecological problems.  Most ominous is the fact that up to 20% of women may become infertile as a result of PID.
As mentioned, PID typically begins as an STI. Among STIs, gonorrhea and chlamydia are the most common causes. Here are additional risk factors for PID.

  • Prior episode of PID
  • Under age 25 – The cervix (opening to the uterus) has greater susceptibility to STIs and thus to PID in this age group.
  • Douching — This can force bacteria from the vagina into the upper reproductive organs.
  • IUD use — In some women, using an intrauterine device (IUD) to prevent pregnancy can also cause PID.
  • Medical care — PID may rarely result from gynecological procedures or surgeries.

There is a pretty significant range in the way PID shows up. You may not have symptoms, or symptoms could be quite severe. Symptoms may include lower abdominal pain, fever and foul-smelling vaginal discharge. You may notice pain with sex or while urinating. Your menstruation may become abnormal.
This may sound odd, but the treatment of PID is much more important than its diagnosis. This is because a diagnosis may be difficult to reach due to the subtlety of symptoms, and the consequences of missing the diagnosis are severe enough that presumptive treatment is commonly done. Early treatment can prevent or limit long-term complications such as infertility and chronic pelvic pain. According to the CDC, without adequate treatment, 20-40% of women with chlamydia and 10-40% of women with gonorrhea may develop PID. Among those with PID, fully one in five (20%) may develop infertility and one in 10 (10%) may develop a tubal (ectopic) pregnancy. Chronic pelvic pain occurs in approximately 18% of cases of PID.
If you are thought to have or are diagnosed with PID, you will need antibiotics. It is critical that you take these until they are all gone. This is not an instance where you should stop taking the pills once you start feeling better. More specifics on the treatment of PID are provided at www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.
What you really want to remember is that prevention is key. The best way to avoid STIs is to abstain from sex or to be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and isn’t infected. In addition, correct and consistent use of condoms further reduces your risk of STIs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea.
One more crucial means of protection from PID is early detection. If you think you or your sexual partner may have an STI, get evaluated and treated promptly.
Feel free to ask your SMA personal healthcare consultant any questions you have on this topic.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what  http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Sexually Transmitted Disease Summary and The Week In Review, Sept. 29th, 2013

in-case-you-missed-it

Based on your responses to the pictures posted this week, I should have renamed the blog, Scared Straight, No Chaser. The irony of it all is without exception, those pictures were very typical representations of the various sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some of you didn’t like it, but I do appreciate that large numbers of you read it all. I hope you learned a lot and even more importantly were moved into (in)action. In case you missed anything:

On Sunday, we began the week with a look at bacterial vaginosis (BV), which may be associated with sex but is not an STI. It’s important for women to take an active effort to learn their bodies and the effects various activities have. Remember, BV is easily treated, but it’s always fair to take the opportunity to ensure that STIs aren’t also present.

On Monday, we reviewed the most common bacterial STI, chlamydia. Chlamydia is a really typical disease in that it’s contagious, easily transmitted and has substantial complications if not treated.

On Tuesday, we reviewed gonorrhea, which very often occurs in tandem with Chlamydia. Like chlamydia, it’s contagious, easily transmitted and has substantial complications if not treated. Think of gonorrhea when copious discharge is present, and don’t forget this includes the eyes, throat and joints.

On Wednesday, we reviewed the various stages of syphilis. This easily treatable yet very dangerous disease has the nasty habits of mimicking many other disease and spontaneously disappearing – which is not the same as it being cured. Instead, it progresses to more harmful stages if not identified and treated. Remember the association of syphilis with rashes involving the palms and soles.

On Thursday, we reviewed the treatment of syphilis. It is so important to understand how easily this is treated, so get checked. We also reviewed the story of the Tuskegee Experiment of Untreated Syphilis and how that (unethically) led to the knowledge we have about syphilis and the mandatory protections now in place for humans participating in medical experiments.

On Friday, we reviewed herpes. Many were shocked to learn these groups of small blisters (vesicles) can be found wherever an infection occurs, including the fingers, eyes and mouth. Think of herpes when you get a painful genital ulcer, and get checked ASAP.

On Saturday, we discussed the cauliflower ear, a too common, very preventable and apparently sought after (by certain athletes) condition seen in those with trauma to the ear. The trauma results in the accumulation of blood and clots, which damages and deforms the ear into its prototypical appearance. This leads to a life of pain and deformity.

Here are three final considerations on sexually transmitted infections.

1. They all tend to coexist. Your exposure to one places you at risk for acquiring others, including HIV/AIDS. What you don’t know can hurt you; in fact it can kill you.

2. Remember that until your partner is treated, you’re not treated.

3. Most of these diseases lead to conditions that physiologically make acquiring HIV/AIDS more likely. I didn’t discuss HIV/AIDS this week because it’s involved enough that it is its own topic with several different considerations. We’ll address these another time.

If you’re not prudent enough to practice safe sex, please be diligent enough to get tested and treated based on any suspicion. Even better – do both. The life you save will be your own.

Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: 10 Questions You Want Answered About Genital Herpes

Herp_leg1 herpes_2
If you’re in a room, look around. Look to your left, then to your right. Look behind and in front of you. Then look deep inside yourself. Statistically, one of the people you’ve just viewed has genital herpes. Different studies suggest between 16-25% of us between ages 14-49 are infected.

Questions You Want Answered Regarding Genital Herpes

1. How common is it? That’s actually a question with two answers. One of five or six individuals have herpes (well over 50 million Americans if you’re keeping count), but it’s estimated that just short of 800,000 new cases occur every year.
2. How do you get it? Herpes is transmitted sexually (genital, oral and/or anal contact) via someone already infected.
3. Can you really get it from a cold sore? Possibly and theoretically yes, but usually not. The Herpes Simplex Virus-1 (HSV-1) is usually found in oral blisters (i.e. ‘cold sores’ or ‘fever blisters’), and its family member HSV-2 is usually found on or near the genitalia, but both can be found in either. Although the Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that “Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection,” many (if not most) emergency physicians have diagnosed herpes based on transmission from oral as well as genital sex.
4. What are the symptoms? Most have no symptoms or symptoms that may be mistaken for the flu (fever, body aches and swollen and tender lymph nodes). The prototypical symptoms are a cluster of blisters (around your genitalia, mouth, fingers or rectum) or painful ulcers.
5. Does it really stay around forever? Yes. Fortunately, the frequency and severity of outbreaks decrease as you age (assuming your immunity is good). If you are immunocompromised, HSV infections can be devastating.
6. If I catch chickenpox or shingles, does that mean I’ll have genital herpes? No. There are many different herpesviruses. HSV-2 is the virus that causes genital herpes. Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. Varicella zoster does not cause genital herpes.
7. Is it true you can catch herpes in the eye? Yes. Wash your hands. Or else…
Herpes Simplex KeratitisHerpeticWhitlow

8. What was that last picture? That wasn’t an just eye, there was also a finger! Well, how did you get it got from the genitals to the eye (Please don’t answer in the comments section…)? That’s called herpetic whitlow. Notice the common theme of grouped clusters of small blisters (vesicles) again. Regarding that eye infection (herpes keratitis), it can cause blindness.

9. Is it true that women get it more often? Some estimates suggest that 25% of American women and 20% of men have genital herpes. Transmission from males to females is easier than from females to males, but guys, I wouldn’t take any chances.
10. What about the babies? 80-90% of general herpes infections to newborns are transmitted during childbirth as the newborn passes through the birth canal. C-section is recommended for all women in labor with active symptoms or lesions of herpes.
11. How do you treat this anyway? Antiviral medications are used at first sign of outbreaks. These medications don’t cure you of herpes, but they do shorten the frequency and severity of outbreaks. Plus, you’ve got to let your sexual partner know about this. It’s criminal not to.
Overall, my best advice to you is prevention, knowledge about your status, recognition of symptoms and prompt treatment. It is very important to emphasize that many people live quite normal lives with herpes. That still doesn’t mean you should be cavalier or irresponsible about it.
I welcome your questions or comments.
Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Gonorrhea (No Clapping)

GonorrheaPHIL_3766
Some of you are old enough to remember when Gonorrhea was called ‘The Clap’, but do any of you know why it was called that? Read on for the answer. In the meantime, realize how disgusting a disease this is. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that well over 800,000 cases of gonorrhea occur yearly. To make matters worse, have you heard about the new ‘Super Gonorrhea’? Don’t let this happen to you.

Here’s what I want you to know about Gonorrhea:

1. It’s a real good reason to wear condoms and a just as good of a reason to wash your hands. Gonorrhea most commonly presents with no symptoms (more often the case in women), but it has two symptoms that won’t let you forget it. It’s the STD that may present with burning upon urination so severe that you feel like you are peeing razor blades. It’s also defined by copious discharge. If you’re exuding white, yellow or green pus, think gonorrhea. As was the case with Chlamydia, it can affect the rectum (proctitis) or a portion of the testicles (epidydimitis), as well as the throat or eyes. Wash your hands after using the bathroom, gents.
2. It’s contagious. If you’re sexually active with someone infected, odds are you’ll get it. It can be acquired via oral, vaginal or anal sex, and ejaculation isn’t required for transmission. Even worse, that means you can pass it to your newborn child (There’s even a name for the condition: ophthalmia neonatorum, as seen in the lead picture.).
2. Treatment doesn’t prevent you from reacquiring it. If you don’t change the behavior, you won’t change the future risk.
3. If both partners aren’t treated, then neither is treated. This can just get passed back and forth like a ping-pong ball. If you have several sexual partners, you’ll manage to introduce a lot of drama into a lot of lives. If you are treated, you should not engage in sexual activity until one week after your partner has completed treatment.
4. It causes serious complications. PID (pelvic inflammatory disease – a complication of untreated Gonorrhea and Chlamydia) is a serious enough topic to warrant its own post, but untreated infections lead to infertility and an increased rate of tubal (ectopic) pregnancies. Gonorrhea also spreads through the blood and joints. Many of these complications are life-threatening.
5. STDs hang out together. Gonorrhea that goes untreated increases the chances of acquiring or transmitting HIV/AIDS. An infection with Gonorrhea should prompt treatment for other STDs and testing for HIV. It is generally assumed that if you have gonorrhea, you’ve likely been infected with Chlamydia.
6. It is easily prevented and treated. Wear condoms each time, every time. Get evaluated early with the development of signs or symptoms. Discuss the discovery of Gonorrhea with all sexual contacts from the last several months. This is an infection you don’t have to catch.
7. It is now super, but not in a good way. Due to antibiotic resistance, treatment of gonorrhea is becoming more complicated. We are seeing more patients who don’t respond to the first course of treatment. Consider antibiotic resistance if symptoms persists more than three days after completion of treatment.

Now, about The Clap.

Traditionally, there have been three theories about why gonorrhea is called the clap, only one of which sound legitimate to me.
1. Treatment (allegedly) used to involved ‘clapping’ a book together around the penis to expel the discharge. Not only does that not make sense, I can’t imagine men letting someone smash their penis in that manner, when you could just ‘milk’ the discharge out (no pun intended). This is a very common explanation, though…
2. The clap may be a mispronunciation of the phrase ‘the collapse’, which is what gonorrhea was called by medics when GIs were being infected with gonorrhea in WWII.
3. Finally, perhaps, clap is derived from the French word for brothel, ‘clapier’. Makes sense if you’re in Paris, but in NY, why wouldn’t it have been called ‘the broth’, because that’s kind of how it looks… Sorry if you’re reading this during lunch. Then again, I did spare you a picture of genital gonorrhea.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Most Common STD – Chlamydia

chlamydiachlaymdia neonatal
For most people, NGU isn’t a college in South Carolina. In fact, non-gonococcal urethritis isn’t really even that anymore, meaning it doesn’t need to be defined by the fact that it’s not gonorrhea. Chlamydia (the most common cause of NGU) by itself causes an estimated 3 million sexually transmitted infections a year. It is the most likely reason you’re coming into the emergency department when someone’s been behaving badly.
Here’s what I want you to know about Chlamydia:
1. It’s a real good reason to wear condoms. Chlamydia most commonly presents with no symptoms but may present with burning with urination, having to go more often (that’s the urethritis; the urethra is the tube through which urine flows) and a cloudy discharge. Less commonly, it can affect the rectum (proctitis) or a portion of the testicles (epidydimitis).
2. It’s contagious. If you’re sexually active with someone infected, odds are you’ll get it. It can be acquired via oral, vaginal or anal sex, and ejaculation isn’t required for transmission. Even worse, that means you can pass it to your newborn child (to disastrous effects to the baby, as noted in the lead picture of the newborn; Chlamydia has long been a significant cause of blindness worldwide, though thankfully the rate is decreasing).
2. Treatment doesn’t prevent you from reacquiring it. If you don’t change the behavior, you won’t change the future risk.
3. If both partners aren’t treated, then neither is treated. This can just get passed back and forth like a ping-pong ball. If you have several sexual partners, you’ll manage to introduce a lot of drama into a lot of lives. If you are treated, you should not engage in sexual activity until one week after your partner(s) have completed treatment.
4. It causes serious damage to females. PID (pelvic inflammatory disease – a complication of untreated Chlamydia) is a serious enough topic to warrant its own post, but untreated infections lead to infertility, an increased rate of tubal (ectopic) pregnancies and other complications. This needs to be identified and treated.
5. STDs hang out together. Chlamydia that goes untreated increases the chances of acquiring or transmitting HIV/AIDS. An infection with Chlamydia should prompt treatment for other STDs and testing for HIV.
6. It is easily prevented and treated. Wear condoms each time, every time. Get evaluated early with development of signs or symptoms. Discuss the discovery of Chlamydia with all sexual contacts from the last several months. This is an infection you don’t have to catch.
Let me know if you have any questions or comments.
Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: The Doctor/Patient Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Talk

stdstud STD1in25
As an emergency physician, my first consideration is to eliminate life threats.  Along the way, I cure disease and provide a ton of information.  With all of these efforts, I provide a heavy dose of tough love and straight talk meant to empower (and hopefully never belittle).  This is heavy on my mind because this week we’ll be discussing sex – not the pleasant aspects, but those instances when something has gone wrong as a result of sex.
I’ve been on the receiving end of hundreds (more likely thousands) of couples coming in, usually one dragging the other by the ear, attempting to determine if “something’s going on”, and yes, more than a few relationships have left the emergency room dissolved after such conversations.  I would like to have the beginning of such a conversation with you much in the way that I might have with one of these couples.  This is a very appropriate prelude to a conversation about sexuality transmitted infections (aka STIs aka STDs).
Patient: I have a foul smell coming from my vagina.  I know he’s doing something!
Doctor: Can you tell me what it smells like?  Is there any vaginal discharge, rash or other lesions that you’re seeing?
Male partner (who would have been better off saying nothing): It smells like fish!
Patient (after shooting eye lasers at her partner): I am not having sex with anyone but him, so I know he did something!
Male partner: Doc, I’m not doing anything.  She’s the only one I’m with, and I don’t have any symptoms.
Doctor: So each of you only has each other as a partner?
Couple: <nods yes>
Doctor: Would you bet your lives on it?
Couple: <Stunned silence>
Doctor: Well that’s exactly what you’re doing every time you’re having unprotected sex.  Now about that discharge…
This upcoming week we are going to address 5 of the 6 most common and/or most important STIs out there for you to know about.

Chlamydia

Gonorrhea

Syphilis

Herpes

HIV

Not talking about them, not protecting yourself from them, and not testing yourself for them is truly believing that ignorance is bliss.  In this case, what you don’t know can kill you.  No matter what you think about how ‘good’ it is, it’s not worth risking your life over.  Also, as an additional conversation, I’ll discuss Bacterial Vaginosis.
While you’re waiting for the next post, go back and reread the other of the 6: this post on ‘The Sexually Transmitted Cancer’.  It definitely should be considered requiring reading for everyone who is sexually active or about to become active, and I would have addressed it first had I not already covered it.  Might I suggest you cover it as well?
Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress