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Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Health

3. What Are the Benefits and Risks of Circumcision? continued...


  • A decreased risk of urinary tract infections
  • A reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases in men
  • Protection against penile cancer and a reduced risk of cervical cancer in female sex partners
  • Prevention of balanitis (inflammation of the glans) and balanoposthitis (inflammation of the glans and foreskin)
  • Prevention of phimosis (the inability to retract the foreskin) and paraphimosis (the inability to return the foreskin to its original location)

Male circumcision may also make it easier to keep the end of the penis clean, although studies have shown that good hygiene can help prevent certain problems with an uncircumcised penis, including infections and swelling. In addition, using a condom during sex will help prevent sexually transmitted diseases and other infections.

As with most medical procedures, there are risks associated with circumcision. These include:

  • Pain
  • Risk of bleeding and infection at the site of the circumcision
  • Irritation of the glans
  • Increased risk of meatitis (inflammation of the opening of the penis)
  • Risk of injury to the penis

4. Is vaginal discharge normal?

A woman normally produces a vaginal discharge that usually is described as clear or slightly cloudy, non-irritating, and odor-free. During the normal menstrual cycle, the amount and consistency of discharge can vary. At one time of the month, there may be a small amount of a very thin or watery discharge; and at another time, a more extensive thicker discharge may appear. All of these excretions could be considered normal.

A vaginal discharge that has an odor or that is irritating usually is considered an abnormal discharge. The irritation might be itching or burning, or both. The itching may be present at any time of the day, but it often is most bothersome at night. These symptoms often are made worse by sexual intercourse. It is important to see your gynecologist if there has been a change in the amount, color, or smell of the discharge.

5. Is hormone replacement therapy for menopause bad for women?

There has been much debate by the scientific community regarding hormone replacement therapy, or HRT. In general, hormone treatment is believed to maintain healthy bones after menopause, in addition to relieving menopausal symptoms. But, like all treatments, there may be some harmful side effects, including an increased risk for endometrial (uterine) cancer and breast cancer.

Hormone replacement therapy isn't right for everyone. Talk to your doctor to determine if hormone treatment is right for you.

6. Can a woman get pregnant while breastfeeding?

Yes. Even though breastfeeding may suppress or delay menstruation, you can still get pregnant. Ovulation will occur before you start having menstrual periods again, so follow your doctor's recommendation on the appropriate birth control method to use.

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