Doctor's Advice: My wild past
Q Doctor, when I was younger I led a pretty wild sex life. There were a lot of men, some threesomes, and even an orgy on one occasion. I regret all this now. Today, I am totally faithful to my husband.
But what I would like to know is if as a result of my sinful life, am I likely to get cervical cancer? I know it is linked to sex.
A It's important to realise that every woman who has ever had sex is at some risk of cervical cancer. That disease is almost unknown in virgins. But the more sexual partners a woman has, the more likely she is to get it.
The reason for this is fairly simple. Carcinoma (cancer) of the cervix is mainly caused from infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is transmitted during sex with a man who is carrying it. When it gets into your cervix, it can cause inflammation and, after an interval of years, that may progress to cancer.
Experts have noted that most adult women today will be exposed to HPV at some stage in their lives. Fortunately, the female body will usually fight the virus, and can eventually eliminate it. But in a minority of women, the virus 'wins', and creates a cancerous region in the cervix.
The fact that you have had so many sex partners in the past does indicate that you were almost certainly exposed to HPV. That certainly does not mean that you will definitely get cancer. But it does make it more likely.
However, there is good news. If you protect yourself by having regular Pap smear tests, it is unlikely that you will die of cervical carcinoma! Regular 'smears' pick up the earliest changes of cancer, long before they cause any symptoms, and long before they can harm you.
It is a universally recognised medical fact that all adult women who have ever had sex should have Pap smears throughout their lives. In your case, the need is even greater because you were fairly promiscuous when you were younger.
So please have a test done right away. And after that, let your doctor advise you as to when you should have another one done. If you do keep your appointments, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.
Q I am a 35-year-old male, and I seem to be having some problems with my prostate. A doctor has advised me to have a PSA test.
But what is that?
A A PSA is a prostate specific antigen. Your doctor wants you to take a test that will find out the level of antigen in your blood.
PSA levels are high in certain diseases, including cancer of the prostate gland. It does seem to me that you are very young to have prostatic cancer, but presumably the doctor has some very good reasons for wanting to see those results.
Q Doctor, I am 37 years old, and since my 20s have suffered from irregular periods. I have been to a doctor about it and he has had me do some tests.
The results show that I have hormonal imbalance. I want to know if that could have any adverse reactions on my health?
A Well, there are various types of 'hormonal imbalance' in women, and you have not said what the actual abnormality is. If you can find out, please email me again, and I will try to help.
But in general, irregular periods are not a great threat to a woman's health. But if they are heavy, they can make her anaemic. Also, if they are grossly irregular, that can mean that it is difficult for her to get pregnant.
It is easy to regularise the menstrual cycle by the use of hormone tablets or hormonal skin patches. You should talk to a doctor about this.
Q My wife and I have been trying to have a baby for the last three years. A doctor has advised us that it would help if I always wear boxer shorts. Why?
A Boxer shorts keep the testicles cooler than 'jockey' shorts do because they are not as close fitting. If the testicles are cool, then they tend to make slightly more sperms.
I presume that you must have had a seminal fluid test which showed that you have a low sperm count. If that is not the case, then there would not be much point in wearing boxer shorts.
Q Last month, while my wife was away visiting her mother in the country, I cheated on her with a pretty girl from Annotto Bay.
Since then, I have avoided having sex with my wife, just in case I caught anything from that young woman. I have had no symptoms at all. So would it be safe to resume having intercourse with my wife now, Doctor?
A Doesn't your wife think it is a little odd that you have avoided having sex with her for a month? Anyway, the statistical probability is that you are OK, and have not caught anything.
However, there is a chance that you have picked up something which causes little or no symptoms in the early stage - such as chlamydia or HIV. For that reason, I feel you should have a check-up from a doctor before you start having sex with your wife again.
Q I am 31, and thinking of going on the Pill. Can I be sure that it would give me 100 per cent protection, Doctor?
A If a woman takes it regularly, without ever missing any, then the success rate of the Pill is very near to 100 per cent. But if you forget to take the tablets, particularly towards the end of a pack, then there is the risk that you can become pregnant.
So what it comes down to is that if you are good at taking tablets regularly and on time, then the Pill should work very well for you.
Q I am a 30-year-old man and I recently lost my capacity to have an erection. If I went on Viagra, could I be sure that there would be no side effects?
A What interests me is why you have 'lost your nature' at such a young age? I wonder if there is some psychological cause, like stress. Or maybe you have diabetes and you are not aware.
If you do go on Viagra, the results are very good. But it is a powerful drug, and all powerful drugs can have side effects. Common ones which may occur with Viagra include:
Indigestion and gas
Seeing things as blue coloured for a few
Faintness if you jump out of bed too
All of these are pretty mild and very few men stop taking Viagra because of such minor symptoms. However, there are some rare side effects which affect the eyes or the ears. Ask your own doctor about these.
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