Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Herpes is caused by a virus that is easily transmitted during intimate contact. Oral herpes causes painful sores on the lips (cold sores) whereas genital herpes causes painful sores on the penis, vulva, vagina or anus. Either type of herpes can cause infection if there is an open “sore” so limit kissing, rubbing, intercourse or touching during this time.To prevent transmission to others, wash your hands thoroughly and do not share towels, washcloths, utensils or drinking glasses.
Herpes infection results in flu-like symptoms and blisters about 2-10 days after exposure. The first outbreak is usually the most severe. Some people only have one outbreak during their lifetime whereas others have outbreaks every month with their periods.
See Dr. O’Sullivan immediately if you think you may have a new herpes infection. If you have a blister a culture can be done for the herpes virus, otherwise we will check your blood for the antibody to the herpes virus.
Herpes is not curable, however, we can often limit or eliminate outbreaks with safe oral medication (Valtrex) and stress management.
Genital warts are caused by the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and look like flesh-colored bumps in the genital area. Usually the warts will not go away on their own and require treatment with either acid or cream. Even though warts are neither painful nor medically harmful, it is best to treat them to prevent infecting another. Ask Dr. O’Sullivan about the Gardasil vaccine which is 90% effective in preventing genital warts.
Chlamydia & Gonorrhea
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are easily transmitted with sexual contact and cause discharge from the vagina or the penis. Unfortunately, men often ignore their symptoms until they have already infected their female partner. If you are infected, you will be treated with antibiotics. If treated early, the infection causes little damage. Many women, however, have no symptoms and go untreated for months resulting in PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) and sometimes irreversible infertility.
Condoms are the best way to prevent infection. The CDC recommends annual testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea at the time of your Pap for ladies 27 and younger. Ask Dr. O’Sullivan for a test if you think you are at risk.