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The Naked Truth The Sexual Health Blog

Be Safe, Not Paranoid

July 9th, 2011 by Dr. Lisa, Medical Director

STD testing keeps these people happy

Not all genital issues are STDs

by Medical Director Lisa Oldson, MD

Recently, I took a family member to see a specialist. The neurosurgeon told me, “I live in the world of the brain…so when I hear about a problem, my first instinct is to try to solve it with brain surgery.”

Here at SexualHealth, we live in the world of STDs…but we’re well aware that not all genital itches, bumps and rashes are caused by a sexually transmitted infection.

When clients call our amazing Care Advisors, they’re often looking for peace of mind. I recently took a call from a client who had a penile rash for months. It was a bit itchy and he was convinced it was herpes. Here’s how I responded…

“The good news is that this rash is unlikely to be herpes. HSV infections don’t last for months, and – while they can itch – that isn’t a common symptom of herpes. What you’re describing may not be an STD at all, though the only way to know for sure is to be examined.

A good dermatologist or primary care physician may look at your skin and tell you within seconds what you have. All the discussion in the world cannot replace looking directly at a rash.

That said, your rash raises the question of STD screening. If you’ve had any sex activity without a condom since you were last screened, its a good idea to get tested for a full array of common STDs. Why? Because STDs can be silent and show no symptoms…so you may be infected and not know it.”

This is the best medical advice we can give someone in this situation…we’re here to help you understand your risks and your options. But we never presume that any genital symptoms you may be experiencing are necessarily related to STDs.

Wishing you good luck and good health…

Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/Yuri_Arcurs

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