Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on September 14, 2011

What kinds of STDs and other infections can a man get from having unprotected anal sex with a woman?

What kinds of STDs and other infections can a man get from having unprotected anal sex with a woman? Recently, while having unprotected anal sex, the base of my penis became pink and irritated. The mild irritation has persisted and jock itch cream isn’t working.

answered by Lisa Oldson, MD on September 14, 2011

Thanks for your important question. The truth is, all STDs can potentially be transmitted through unprotected anal sex if your partner is infected...including these STDs:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Genital Herpes (HSV-1 & HSV-2)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Syphilis
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Hepatitis B & C (with blood exchange)

From your question, I presume your sexual encounter was with someone whose STD status you don’t know...if so, you’re at risk for STDs, and I would encourage you to get tested for a full array of common sexually transmitted infections. But keep in mind that signs of STD infection take a little time to be detected...to help you decide when to get tested, see our STD Testing Windows Guide.

If you test positive for an STD, don’t panic...all STDs are treatable and manageable, and some are curable. And the sooner an STD is identified, the more effectively it can be treated...and the less likely you’ll be to experience complications down the road. As well, if you’re positive, I advise you to notify your recent partner(s) so they can get tested, too (and treated, if necessary).

In future, you can reduce your risk of STDs by practicing safer sex. Specifically, when you have anal sex, it’s a good idea to use a condom to lower the chances of transmitting or catching an STD. And because condoms are more likely to break during anal sex, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using a water-based lubricant to cut down the risk of condom breakage. (Why water-based? Because oil-based lubricants can weaken latex condoms.)

To learn more about STD risks, prevention, symptoms, complications, testing and treatment, you might want to check out our Expert Guide to STD Basics.

Finally, what else might be causing your symptoms? Unrelated to STDs, you can also get urethritis from unprotected anal sex. This inflammation of the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) is often caused by STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea. It can also be caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 (HSV 1 & HSV 2). In some cases, E. coli, a bacteria normally found in the digestive tract (including the anus) can also cause inflammation.

If you have urethritis, you might feel a burning sensation during or after urination, a frequent urge to pee, or itching or tenderness in the groin area. You’ll need to see your doctor to determine whether you have urethritis, and to get a prescription for any necessary treatment.

I hope this information is helpful to you, and that you soon resolve your worry and discomfort with the help of your regular doctor.

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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