DRS. OZ AND ROIZEN: Lets talk about STI
Napoleon Bonaparte and Franz Schubert died from arsenic and mercury poisoning, because in the 19th century these toxins were used to treat syphilis. In the 20th century, Al Capone succumbed to the same sexually transmitted infection.
Today in North America, more than 20 million new STIs are reported annually, half in people ages 15 to 24, and many in people over 65.
The good news: At any age, sex can be fun, as long as you’re knowledgeable about these infections and protect yourself.
STIs caused by viruses include hepatitis B, herpes, HIV and the human papilloma virus. Bacterial STIs are chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. A parasite causes trichomoniasis.
Fortunately, antibiotics can treat bacterial and parasitic infections (although some strains are becoming antibiotic-resistant.). Viral STIs are difficult to cure; you usually just manage symptoms.
Left unchecked, STIs can cause infertility, cancer, immune system damage or organ failure. The smart move is to avoid getting one. But, if you do, treat it immediately.
Prevention: Abstinence works; without sex, no STIs. (There’s no risk from toilet seats.) Latex condoms help block out HIV and other infections but don’t protect against herpes or HPV. The HPV vaccine prevents that infection.
Treatment: Yearly pelvic exams (for women) can identify infections. If you’re diagnosed (men and women), take your medication as prescribed. Many OTC “meds” falsely claim to cure or prevent STIs. Only abstinence, condoms and the HPV vaccine help prevent STIs, and only prescription meds cure or control herpes, chlamydia, HPV and HIV infections and other STIs.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.RealAge.com.