Dr Phil: Genital infections
The trouble is lots of people don’t know when they’ve picked up an infection because the commonest symptoms of genital infections are no symptoms at all, particularly if you’re a woman. As very, very, very, very few people pass on sexually transmitted infections deliberately, the worst thing you can do is to blame anyone. As my consultant used to say, if you haven’t picked up chlamydia by the age of 30, you haven’t been trying hard enough.
Occasionally of course you do get symptoms: any sort of discharge, any sort of redness, any sort of soreness, if a big, pussy green blob appears at the end of your penis for no apparent reason, you need to get that sorted out fairly quickly: nearly all sexually transmitted infections can be cured. You’re not alone, loads of people have them; loads of people have chlamydia, possibly 1 in 10 sexually active people under the age of 25. I did a conference once of sexual health consultants (these are the experts you see in the sexual health clinic): a quarter of us had had a sexually transmitted infection at some stage in our life. I personally, Dr Phil, had gonorrhoea when I was a medical student: in my defence it was probably before the days of HIV so not many people wore condoms and you were so amazed that somebody would have sex with you if you had ginger hair and freckles that you just sort of had a go. I woke up a few days later, rivers of puss coming through my boxer shorts, and even I managed to realise there was something not quite right about that. So I popped down the local clinic, down the Westminster clinic, and the consultant was really excited to see me. He took a swab, he rushed off, he stuck it under the microscope and he said ‘come and have a look at this, Dr Phil’. Gram-negative intracellular diplococci: gonorrhoea under the microscope. He was very excited, I was less so (I wish I’d worn a condom), but he then cheered me up by telling me stories of all the famous people he’d treated: actresses, movie stars, politicians, even clergymen.
So, it happens to everyone, the worst thing you can do is deny it. If you don’t know what your status is and you’d like a sexual MOT, pop down to your local clinic (their number is in the Yellow Pages). If you’d like some excellent advice I would recommend the embarrassingproblems.com website: tackle it and move on. If you want some excellent advice and you want a laugh at the same time I’d recommend Sex, Sleep or Scrabble?, available at all major outlets.
Written by: Dr Phil Hammond
Edited by: Dr Phil Hammond
Last updated: Friday, August 13th 2010
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