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Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Health

1. Does a man go through menopause?

Yes, a man goes through menopause, but to a different extent than a woman. Menopause is a term used to describe the end of a woman's fertility. It literally means the end of menstruation. Female menopause is characterized by changes in hormone production. The male testes, unlike the woman's ovaries, do not lose the ability to make hormones. A healthy male may be able to make sperm well into his 80's or longer.

On the other hand, subtle changes in the function of the testes may occur as early as 45-50 years of age, and more dramatically after the age of 70. Because men do not go through a distinct male menopause period, some doctors refer to this as androgen (testosterone) deficiency in the aging male (ADAM). Men typically experience a decline in testosterone production due to aging, but it can also be related to some diseases like diabetes.

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Whether waning function of the testicles contributes to such symptoms as fatigue, weakness, depression, decreased sexual desire, or impotence remains uncertain. If testosterone levels are low, replacing that hormone may help relieve them. However, replacing male hormones can worsen prostate cancer and high cholesterol levels. Talk to your doctor to see if hormone treatment is right for you.

2. How often should a woman get a pelvic exam and Pap test?

A Pap test is recommended for women age 21 and older. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends routine screening for women ages 21 to 65 years every two years. More frequent Pap tests may be needed if an abnormal test result is found or if you are at high risk of cervical cancer.

Combining a Pap test with a human papillomavirus (HPV) test can safely extend the interval between cervical cancer screenings from three years to five years in many women between the ages of 30-65, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

Also according to USPSTF guidelines, HPV testing is not recommended for women in their 20s, because people in that age group can have HPV infections that resolve without treatment.

Women over age 65 can stop getting screened if they’ve had at least three consecutive negative Pap tests or at least two negative HPV tests within the previous 10 years, according to the guidelines. But certain women who have a history of a precancerous abnormality should continue to be screened for at least 20 years.

And women of any age who’ve had a hysterectomy with removal of the cervix and no history of cervical cancer or precancerous abnormalities do not need to be screened, according to the guidelines.

3. What Are the Benefits and Risks of Circumcision?

Circumcision in newborn boys for medical or health reasons is an issue that continues to be debated. In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported that circumcision has potential medical benefits and advantages, as well as risks. The existing scientific evidence is not sufficient to recommend routine circumcision. Therefore, because the procedure is not essential to a child’s current well-being, we recommend that the decision to circumcise is one best made by parents in consultation with their pediatrician, taking into account what is in the best interests of the child, including medical, religious, cultural, and ethnic traditions.

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