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    Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Health

    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.

    7. Can a hysterectomy cause sexual problems for a woman?

    Some women may experience changes in sexual function after a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus). These changes may comprise a loss of desire, decreased vaginal lubrication, and genital sensation. Furthermore, surgery can damage nerves and blood vessels considered critical to a woman's sexual functioning.

    8. Can a person with syphilis spread the disease?

    Yes. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease. A person with syphilis can spread the infection during the first two stages of the disease. If you come in contact with an open sore (first stage) or skin rash (second stage), you can pick up the bacteria that cause the infection. If the bacteria enter your body through an opening such as the penis, anus, vagina, mouth, or broken skin, you can get syphilis.

    If a person has had syphilis for more than two years, it's unlikely that he or she can spread the disease. Don't take a chance. Use a lubricated condom during sex.

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