Archive for the ‘STD’ Category

50 Shades of Sex In the Golden Years

February 24, 2015

So many seniors think that after sixty sexual intimacy goes into the tank. This is hardly the case as an interest in intimacy and sexual activity continues throughout life even in the golden years. Our society tends to have ageist concept of intimacy, portraying sex among seniors as inappropriate or unnatural. The truth is that many seniors, both men and women, continue to be sexually active and are interested in meeting others with whom they can become intimate. There is documentation that 70% of men and 35% of women continue to be sexually active over the age of 70. This blog will discuss sex and the senior and what you can do if you are having problems with sexual intimacy in your senior years.

While most long-married individuals reported steady declines in sexual activity, those who passed the 50-year marriage mark began to report a slight increase in their sex lives.

And notably, frequency in the sex lives of long-married couples continued to improve. The study, published last month in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers noted that an individual married for 50 years will have somewhat less sex than an individual married for 65 years.

The analysis of this study showed that the warm glow after the 50-year marriage mark, although flickering, was steadier than that of those in marriages of shorter duration. The researchers are sociologists at Louisiana State University, Florida State University and Baylor University.

Sexual frequency doesn’t return to two to three times a month, but it moves in that direction, which was reported by the investigator from LSU.

But the finding that some long-married couples continue to have sex decade after decade was not news to Jennie B., an 82-year-old widow who lives in a village in upstate New York. She married her first and only husband, Peter, in 1956, when they were in their mid-twenties. The couple, married 47 years, remained sexually active until he had quintuple heart bypass surgery two years before his death in 2003.

In this snapshot study of older adults, some were not having sex at all. And a few were even having sex daily. But in the main, the study looked at trends. The average older adult who had been married for a year had a 65 percent chance of having sex two to three times a month or more. At 25 years of marriage, the likelihood of that frequency dropped to 40 percent. If the marriage lasted 50 years, the likelihood was 35 percent. But if the marriage — and the lifespan — of the older adults continued, at 65 years of being together, the chance of having sex with that frequency was 42 percent.

And so, as adults age, their social circles shrink, they know time is limited, they look around and what do they see? Each other. Seniors will often place intimacy as a high priority.

I might add that seniors often engage in intimacy without having intercourse but that intimacy can occur with touching, holding hands and kissing is often just as satisfying and gratifying as sexual intercourse which occurs at an earlier age.

Bottom Line: Sex after sixty is an activity that is normal and should be encouraged. It may take a little creativity and it may take a little more planning and effort but it can happen and both partners feel a sense of enjoyment and pleasure.

Recommended Reading 30 Lessons for Loving, by Karl Pillemer, PhD.

Perhaps even 50 Shades of Grey!

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When It Hurts When You Ejaculate-Coming and Going

July 23, 2013

It is not an uncommon complaint for men to have pain at the time of ejaculation. This is almost always a result of inflammation and can be resolved with medication. Pain at the time of ejaculation can be felt in the area between the anus and the scrotum or in the urethra, a tube that runs from the bladder to the end of the penis. The condition can cause discomfort in the testes and certainly interferes with sexual pleasure.

Painful Ejaculation can be caused by an inflammatory condition of the prostate gland which can make the prostate feel sore and irritated, STDs may cause inflammation in the prostate and the urethra and cause pain with ejaculation and pain with urination, obstruction to the ejaculatory ducts that get distended and then cause pain when the seminal vesicles contract at the time of ejaculation, and finally, psychological problems can manifest themselves as painful ejaculation.

To find the cause of painful ejaculation, a semen sample and urine sample taken after ejaculation (post ejaculation urine analysis) is examined. A sample of the urethral lining is taken to see if there is any infection, such as a sexually transmitted infection. A test that looks at the inside of the bladder and urethra (cystoscopy) may also be done, although this is not a usual procedure for diagnosing painful ejaculation. For some men it can be hard to describe the exact location of the pain.

Treatment
If no physical cause is found, some behavioral techniques to relax the muscles in the pelvic area may help some men. When the cause is prostatitis the use of medications such as ‘alpha blockers’, muscle relaxants, analgesics, and some anti-inflammatory drugs may help. Specific antiviral and antibiotic medications can be given if the cause of painful ejaculation is due to an infection such as herpes.
If the cause is psychological, counseling may help deal with any underlying concerns.

Bottom Line: Painful ejaculation is not life-threatening, but may affect sexual pleasure and can cause a man distress, anxiety and lower self esteem. In most instances the cause can be determined and effective treatment is available..

Vaccine and Hygiene For Preventing HPV STD

January 8, 2013

Vaccines are available to guard against a variety of different
infections and illnesses and are indicated for a number of different
patient populations. This blog will focus on human papillomavirus
(HPV).

Most HPV infections are asymptomatic and typically resolve in 1-2
years. the HPV infection is not female specific as the infection can
cause genital warts, warts in the throat, oral and anal cancers. The
HPV vaccine can prevent most of these cases if the vaccine is given
before exposure to the virus. If the HPV vaccine is given at an early
enough age, the vaccine can also prevent vaginal cancer in females.

Two vaccines have been developed for the prevention of HPV and both
vaccines are offered as a 3-dose series that is typically completed
over six months.

Gardasil vaccine provides immunity against HPV infections of 6, 11,
16, and 18 genotypes. Genotypes 6 and 11 are associated with the
majority fo cases of condyloma accuminata or genital warts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended
the routine use of Gardasil for boys and young men 9-26 years of age
for the prevention of genital warts and other HPV related disease in
men and bosy. It is recommended that boys and men receiving the
injections complete the entire series for maximum protection.

Bottom Line: HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease, most
infections are asymptomatic, however certain types can casue cancer of
the penis, vagina, and throat. Early vaccination in both boys and
girls helps prevent infection and future complications. For more
information contact your physician or pediatrician.

Deciding Upon the Prime Cut- The Circumcision Decision

December 28, 2012

No descriptor required!

No descriptor required!


Parents often ruminate about the decision to circumcise their young baby boys. Certainly if you are of the Jewish faith, there is no question that you will consider cicrcumcision for your new baby boy. For non-Jews, and non-Moslems, the decision is much more difficult.

New evidence is out that circumcision reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. A review of current medical research points out that the medical benefits of circumcision outweigh the risk of the procedure. Circumcised infants are 90
% less liekly than uncircumcised infants to develop urinary tract infections. Later in life, the circumcised boys are at a lower risk of contracting HIV, herpes, penile cancer, and human papilomavirus, which when passed to female partners, can cause cervical cancer. The serious complicaitons occur in only about 0.2 percent of baby boys who under the operation.

Bottom Line: The circumcision decision is often difficult for most parents to make. I suggest you speak to your pediatrician and obstetrician about the “prime cut.”

When It Really Hurts Down There-Epididymitis

June 3, 2012

When men experience a painful testicle, it can be frightening and a source of not only pain but anxiety as most men associate the testicles with pleasure and reproduction. This article will discuss a common cause of pain in the scrotum and what treatment options are available.
Epididymitis is an inflammation of the coiled tube (epididymis) at the back of the testicle that stores and carries sperm. Pain and swelling are the most common signs and symptoms of epididymitis. Epididymitis is most common in men between the ages of 14 and 35.
Epididymitis is most often caused by a bacterial infection or by a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. In some cases, the testicle also may become inflamed.
Epididymitis symptoms include: Testicle pain and tenderness, usually on one side, painful urination, painful intercourse or ejaculation, chills and fever, a lump on the testicle, discharge from the penis especially if the cause is from a STD, and discoloration of the semen.

Location of the epididymis

Location of Epididymis On Top and Behind the Testicle

Causes
Epididymitis has a number of causes, including: STDs, particularly gonorrhea and chlamydia, are the most common cause of epididymitis in young, sexually active men. Boys, older men and homosexual men are more likely to have epididymitis caused by a nonsexually transmitted bacterial infection. For men and boys who’ve had urinary tract infections or prostate infections, bacteria may spread from the infected site to the epididymis. Rarely, epididymitis is caused by a fungal infection. Epididymitis may be caused by urine going backward into the epididymis. This is called chemical epididymitis and may occur with heavy lifting or straining.

Diagnosis
Your doctor will do a physical exam, which may reveal enlarged lymph nodes in your groin and an enlarged testicle on the affected side. Your doctor also may do a rectal examination to check for prostate enlargement or tenderness and order blood and urine tests to check for infection and other abnormalities.
Other tests your doctor might order include: STD testing. This involves obtaining a sample of discharge from your urethra. Your doctor may insert a narrow swab into the end of your penis to obtain the sample, which is then tested for the presence of bacteria or other infectious organisms. The results can be used to select the most effective antibiotic for treatment.
Ultrasound imaging is a noninvasive test, which uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of structures inside your body and is used to rule out conditions, such as twisting of the spermatic cord (testicular torsion) or a testicular tumor. Your doctor may use this test if your symptoms began with sudden, severe pain.
A nuclear scan of the testicles is also used to rule out testicular torsion, this test involves injecting trace amounts of radioactive material into your bloodstream. Special cameras then can detect areas in your testicles that receive less blood flow, indicating torsion, or more blood flow, supporting the diagnosis of epididymitis.

Treatment
Epididymitis caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or other infection is treated with antibiotic medications. If you have significant pain, you will probably receive an anti-inflammatory medication. Your sexual partner will also need treatment.
When you’ve finished your medication, it’s a good idea to return to your doctor for a follow-up visit to be sure that the infection has cleared up. If it hasn’t, your doctor may try another antibiotic. If the infection still doesn’t clear, your doctor may do further tests to determine whether your epididymitis is caused by something other than a bacterial infection or an STD.

To ease your symptoms, try these suggestions: Bed rest-depending on the severity of your discomfort, you may want to stay in bed one or two days. Mild relief will occur if you place a folded towel under your scrotum. Wear an athletic supporter or jockey underwear. A supporter provides better support than boxers do for the scrotum. Apply cold packs to your scrotum. Wrap the pack in a thin towel and remove the cold pack every 30 minutes. Don’t have sex until your infection has cleared up. Ask your doctor when you can have sex again.

Bottom Line: Epididymitis is a common cause of scrotal pain. Epididymitis is usually a result of an infection and can be successfully treated with antibiotics. See your doctor whenever you have scrotal pain or you find a lump or bump in your scrotum.

Screen Tests Are Not Just For Male Movies Stars

February 9, 2012

Getting the right screening test at the right time is one of the most important things a man can do for his health. Screenings find diseases early, before you have symptoms, when they’re easier to treat. Early colon cancer can be nipped in the bud. Finding diabetes early may help prevent complications such as vision loss and impotence. The tests you need are based on your age and your risk factors.

Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer found in American men after skin cancer. It tends to be a slow-growing cancer, but there are also aggressive, fast-growing types of prostate cancer. Screening tests can find the disease early, sometimes before symptoms develop, when treatments are most effective.
Screenings for healthy men may include both a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. The American Cancer Society advises men to talk with a doctor about the risks and limitations of PSA screening as well as its possible benefits. Discussions should begin at:
• 50 for average-risk men
• 45 for men at high risk. This includes African-Americans.
• 40 for men with a strong family history of prostate cancer
The American Urological Association recommends a first-time PSA test at age 40, with follow-ups per doctor’s orders.

Testicular Cancer
This uncommon cancer develops in a man’s testicles, the reproductive glands that produce sperm. Most cases occur between ages 20 and 54. The American Cancer Society recommends that all men have a testicular exam when they see a doctor for a routine physical. Men at higher risk (a family history or an undescended testicle) should talk with a doctor about additional screening. I suggest that most men learn how to do a self-examination. You can gently feeling for hard lumps, smooth bumps, or changes in size or shape of the testes. If you find an abnormality, contact your doctor. For more information on testis self-examination, please go to my website: http://www.neilbaum.com/testes-self-examination-tse.html

Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer. Men have a slightly higher risk of developing it than women. The majority of colon cancers slowly develop from colon polyps: growths on the inner surface of the colon. After cancer develops it can invade or spread to other parts of the body. The way to prevent colon cancer is to find and remove colon polyps before they turn cancerous.
Screening begins at age 50 in average-risk adults. A colonoscopy is a common test for detecting polyps and colorectal cancer. A doctor views the entire colon using a flexible tube and a camera. Polyps can be removed at the time of the test. A similar alternative is a flexible sigmoidoscopy that examines only the lower part of the colon. Some patients opt for a virtual colonoscopy — a CT scan — or double contrast barium enema — a special X-ray — although if polyps are detected, an actual colonoscopy is needed to remove them.

Skin Cancer
The most dangerous form of skin cancer is melanoma (shown here). It begins in specialized cells called melanocytes that produce skin color. Older men are twice as likely to develop melanoma as women of the same age. Men are also 2-3 times more likely to get non-melanoma basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers than women are. Your risk increases as lifetime exposure to sun and/or tanning beds accumulates; sunburns accelerate risk.
The American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Dermatology recommend regular skin self-exams to check for any changes in marks on your skin including shape, color, and size. A skin exam by a dermatologist or other health professional should be part of a routine cancer checkup. Treatments for skin cancer are more effective and less disfiguring when it’s found early.

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Your risk for high blood pressure increases with age. It’s also related to your weight and lifestyle. High blood pressure can lead to severe complications without any prior symptoms, including an aneurysm — dangerous ballooning of an artery. But it can be treated. When it is, you may reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. The bottom line: Know your blood pressure. If it’s high, work with your doctor to manage it.
Blood pressure readings give two numbers. The first (systolic) is the pressure in your arteries when the heart beats. The second (diastolic) is the pressure between beats. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80. High blood pressure is 140/90 or higher, and in between those two is prehypertension — a major milestone on the road to high blood pressure. How often blood pressure should be checked depends on how high it is and what other risk factors you have.

Cholesterol Levels
A high level of LDL cholesterol in the blood causes sticky plaque to build up in the walls of your arteries (seen here in orange). This increases your risk of heart disease. Atherosclerosis — hardening and narrowing of the arteries — can progress without symptoms for many years. Over time it can lead to heart attack and stroke. Lifestyle changes and medications can reduce this “bad” cholesterol and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
The fasting blood lipid panel is a blood test that tells you your levels of total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fat). The results tell you and your doctor a lot about what you need to do to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Men 20 years and older should have a new panel done at least every five years. Starting at 35, men need regular cholesterol testing.

Type 2 Diabetes
One-third of Americans with diabetes don’t know they have it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, blindness from damage to the blood vessels of the retina (shown here), nerve damage, and impotence. This doesn’t have to happen. Especially when found early, diabetes can be controlled and complications can be avoided with diet, exercise, weight loss, and medications.
A fasting plasma glucose test is most often used to screen for diabetes. More and more doctors are turning to the A1C test, which tells how well your body has controlled blood sugar over time. Healthy adults should have the test every three years starting at age 45. If you have a higher risk, including high cholesterol or blood pressure, you may start testing earlier and more frequently.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It’s in the blood and other body secretions of infected individuals, even when there are no symptoms. It spreads from one person to another when these secretions come in contact with the vagina, anal area, mouth, eyes, or a break in the skin. There is still no cure or vaccine. Modern treatments can keep HIV infection from becoming AIDS, but these medications can have serious side effects.
HIV-infected individuals can remain symptom-free for many years. The only way to know they are infected is with a series of blood tests. The first test is called ELISA or EIA. It looks for antibodies to HIV in the blood. It’s possible not to be infected and still show positive on the test. So a second test called a Western blot assay is done for confirmation. If you were recently infected, you could still have a negative test result. Repeat testing is recommended. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, ask your doctor about the tests.
Most newly infected individuals test positive by two months after infection. But up to 5% are still negative after six months. Safe sex — abstinence or always using latex barriers such as a condom or a dental dam — is necessary to avoid getting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. If you have HIV and are pregnant, talk with your doctor about what needs to be done to reduce the risk of HIV infection in your unborn child. Drug users should not share needles.

Glaucoma
This group of eye diseases gradually damages the optic nerve and may lead to blindness — and significant, irreversible vision loss can occur before people with glaucoma notice any symptoms. Screening tests look for abnormally high pressure within the eye, to catch and treat the condition before damage to the optic nerve.
Glaucoma Screening
Eye tests for glaucoma are based on age and personal risk:
• Under 40: Every 2-4 years
• 40-54: Every 1-3 years
• 55-64: Every 1-2 years
• 65 up: Every 6-12 months
Talk with a doctor about earlier, more frequent glaucoma screening, if you fall in a high-risk group: African-Americans, those with a family history of glaucoma, previous eye injury, or use of steroid medications.

Bottom Line: There’s a saying New Orleans that if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well that doesn’t apply to maintaining your car and it certainly doesn’t apply to your health and well-being. Men need to have screening tests in order to detect disease states early when they are treatable and curable.

Safe Sex For Seniors

February 3, 2012

The days of the dirty old man are over. Let the truth be told; older men and women want to remain sexually active. Seniors have more open attitudes toward sexuality, better health among seniors, the option for Internet dating, and the availability of medications like Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis, many older adults are remaining sexually active. It is important to emphasize that seniors are also vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) just as younger adults. Therefore it is important that seniors make certain that they are practicing safe sex. This article will provide suggestions for safe sex for seniors.

Do your homework. Seniors need to know your partner’s sexual background before having sex. This includes oral sex, anal sex, as well as vaginal sex. All types of sexual intimacy can spread STDs. It is important for seniors to talk about their sexual histories, and tell one another whether they have recently been tested for STDs and share with each other the results of those tests. It is also important to ask if there has ever been a history of injecting illegal drugs. HIV/AIDS can also be spread via a shared hypodermic needles though the most common risk factor for older women is sex with an infected man.

Make sure you can pass this test! The best way to protect yourself and your partner is for both partners to get tested for HIV and other STDs before starting to have sex. If one of the partners has not been tested, then it is imperative that the tested partner encourage the other partner to obtain testing. Remember that STDs don’t always cause obvious symptoms such as a rash, discharge, fever, or urinary symptoms. Also, some symptoms of STDs or HIV, such as fatigue, can be mistaken for age-related health problems such as low testosterone levels in men.

Condoms count. I suggest that seniors use a condom as well as a lubricant every time you have sex until you are in a monogamous relationship and your know your partner’s sexual history and HIV status. Lubricants such as KY Jelly are important because they can lower the odds of getting a sore or a tiny cut on the penis or inside the vagina. These sores or cuts can significantly increase the risk of getting STDs.

Bring your doctor into the equation. Your doctor can offer additional advice about protecting yourself from STDs. He or she can also recommend treatments for common sexual problems such as vaginal dryness and erectile dysfunction (ED).

It is quote common for senior women to have vaginal dryness as a result of estrogen deficiency. Vaginal dryness results in discomfort when a woman engages in sexual intercourse and can make for an uncomfortable experience. Solutions range from over the counter moisturizers and lubricants or the use of supplemental estrogen prescribed by your doctor. Estrogen can be given by pills, topical vaginal creams and estrogen impregnated rings that are inserted into the vagina.

Though ED is more common with age, it isn’t an inevitable part of the aging process. ED is often due to an underlying medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or the side effects of medication. As a result there is a likelihood of nervousness with the onset of a new relationship. Since ED may be the first sign of an underlying medical condition, it’s particularly important to speak with your doctor if you are having difficulty obtaining or holding an erection adequate for sexual intimacy.

It is not uncommon for seniors to have lost a partner and to go without sexual intimacy for months or years after losing a spouse. Consequently, there is anxiety associated with embarking on a new sexual relationship. Occasionally, counseling is in order to help the seniors jump start their sex lives.

There are numerous medications for ED, which are not recommended for men who use any form of nitroglycerin. Other treatments for ED include testosterone replacement therapy for men who have symptoms of decreased libido, lethargy, and falling asleep after meals. Finally, there are operations which includes penile implants for men where oral medications are not effective.

Bottom Line: It is acceptable and even normal of seniors to engage in sexual intimacy. If a man and women are healthy, are free of STDs, and wish to be sexually intimate, they can plan to successfully engage in sexual intimacy. In 2012, no one needs to suffer the tragedy of the bedroom.

Vaccinations for the Penis

February 5, 2011

You may have heard of the common STD condyloma or veneral warts which are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).  Women have a vaccine (Gardisil) to reduce the risk of condyloma and cervical cancer. HPV can cause certain cancers of the anus and penis in men, although those diseases are far less common than cervical cancer in women. An estimated 20 million Americans, men and women, are currently infected with HPV. Symptoms are rare, however, so most people have the virus — and pass it on — without realizing it.

Now boys and young men who receive the human papillomavirus vaccine appear to be at reduced risk of contracting the virus and developing the genital warts associated with the common sexually transmitted disease, according to a large international study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. Vaccinating men provides a benefit in that fewer men with HPV will also mean that fewer women are exposed to the cancer causing virus.

In an effort to prevent cervical cancer, which can be caused by HPV, public health officials have been encouraging young women to get vaccinated since the Food and Drug Administration approved the first HPV vaccine, Gardasil, in 2006. The vaccine has been approved for boys and men since 2009.

Gardasil is given in a series of three injections. In the study, which included more than 4,000 sexually active males between the ages of 16 and 26, roughly 0.5 percent of the boys and men who received all three shots developed genital warts during the subsequent 2 to 3 years. By contrast, about 2.8 percent of the study participants who received a placebo vaccine developed warts.

Earlier this week, for the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics included the HPV vaccine on its list of recommended vaccines for boys.  Most health insurance plans cover HPV vaccination for both males and females.

Bottom Line:  HPV is a common STD.  Vaccines are now available to prevent the development of the lesions in men and reduce the risk of cervical cancer in men.  If you are a young man or have young sexually active boys, contact your doctor or pediatrician for more information.

http://bit.ly/hPlegx

Herpes-The Other STD

May 4, 2010

Twenty five years ago, when someone had a herpes infection, they thought it was a curse for life.  Today, with other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) that are life-threatening, herpes infections are much less frightening and terrifying.

Herpes is one of the most common STDs and affects nearly 50 million Americans or one in five adolescents and adults have had herpes infections.  This article will review the cause, the symptoms, the diagnosis, the treatment and the prevention of this disease.

Herpes is caused by two different but closely related viruses.  Herpes type 1 (HSV-1) was usually associated with oral lesions and HSV-2 primarily affected the genital organs.  Today, we know that both viruses can be located in either the mouth or genital locations.

The most common symptoms are a recurring rash that develops into cluster of blisters or sores.  The sores may appear anywhere on the body, but in men, the most common areas are the penis, lips, mouth and anus.  In women they can occur around the labia of the vagina.  Other symptoms include pain, itching, burning with urination, fever, headaches, and a general run-down feeling or malaise.

Herpes is spread by touching, kissing, and sexual contact during vaginal, anal and oral intercourse.  Herpes is most contagious from the time the sores are visible until the sores are completely healed.    The first outbreak of sores usually begins from 2-20 days the virus enters the body.  The sores usually heal in about three weeks.  However, even thought the sores heal, the virus remains in the body.  Later it can “flare up” and result in a recurrence.  Recurrent outbreaks occur on average 4-6 times a year.  Once a person has herpes, the virus remains in the body in a dormant or inactive state forever.   Most men and women who have recurrent infections are unable to pinpoint what triggers a herpes outbreak.  Some will identify lack of sleep, poor diet, fatigue and stress as causes of recurrences.

While there is no cure for genital herpes, there are treatment options available.  Antiviral medications can shorten and prevent outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication. In addition, daily suppressive therapy for symptomatic herpes can reduce transmission to partners.  These antiviral drugs such as Zovirax, Valtrex and Famvir can speed up the healing of the sores, decreases the duration of symptoms and reduce the frequency of recurrences.

Prevention of herpes

The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected.

Genital ulcer diseases can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that are not covered. Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of genital herpes only when the infected area or site of potential exposure is protected. Since a condom may not cover all infected areas, even correct and consistent use of latex condoms cannot guarantee protection from genital herpes.

Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with uninfected partners when lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV. A positive HSV-2 blood test most likely indicates a genital herpes infection.

Bottom line: Men and women with genital herpes can and do have happy, productive, and sexually fulfilling lives and can have healthy children, too.  For more information the National Herpes Resource Center at herpesnet@ashastd.org