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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Health

Viagra doesn’t make men happier


Fixing erection won't guarantee happiness.

WHILE drugs like Viagra can certainly help men regain their erections, they won't make them any happier, a new US study claims. 

PDE5 inhibitors such as Viagra, which work by relaxing blood vessels, help tackle the physiological side of erectile dysfunction, or ED, but they don't address psychological causes of impotence, LiveScience reports.

The study, which examined 40 clinical trials, was published on Nov 21 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

"It's simplistic to think that fixing an erection issue would solve relationship issues," said researcher Dr. Andrew Kramer of the University of Maryland Medical Center.

"Happiness is very complicated. A lot of couples still need additional therapy."

Other issues affecting impotence include depression, anxiety, and relationship problems, as well as alcohol and drug use. – AFP Relaxnews

Sex-related infections


Do not be ashamed about sexually transmitted diseases. Get them treated.

I HAVE a nephew who is complaining of foul-smelling discharge from his genitals. He has admitted to not using condoms during sex. I am worried that he might have contracted a sexually transmitted disease. How can I tell?

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are diseases which are acquired by sexual contact. A more appropriate term would be sexually transmitted Infections (STIs), because many STDs do not lead to symptoms.

STDs and STIs are transmitted via semen, vaginal fluids, blood and other bodily fluids. However, they can also be passed from a mother to her child during pregnancy (in the womb) or childbirth.

You can also get them through shared needles or blood transfusions.

What types of STDs or STIs are there?

There are around 20 types of different organisms which can be transmitted through sexual contact.

The commonest are:

> Chlamydia – The bacteria involved is Chlamydia trachomatis. Most people who get this will not experience any symptoms, but when you do, you can get fever, abdominal pain and discharge from your penis or vagina.

Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women, which causes a woman's reproductive organs to be inflamed and grow adhesions. These in turn can result in blocked tubes, leading to infertility.

This can also cause your foetus, if you are pregnant, to develop outside your womb in a dangerous condition called ectopic pregnancy.

> Gonorrhoea – You have probably heard of this very common infection, caused by Neisseria gonorrhoea. Once again, most people who get this will not experience any symptoms, but when you do, you can get a discharge from your penis or vagina, or find it difficult to urinate.

Gonorrhoea can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women. It can also spread throughout the body to involve blood and joints.

> Genital herpes – This is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). This one can appear as cold sores on your lips (especially if you have had oral/genital sex) or genitals. The blisters can be very watery and painful. Once again, most people who carry this have no symptoms.

> Human Papilloma Virus – This is the commonest STD, though most people are not that aware of it. They cause genital warts and can also infect your mouth and throat.

The most alarming thing about the HPV is their ability to cause cancers of the cervix, penis, vulva and mouth, so this is ultimately a very dangerous virus.

There are now a couple of vaccines against this virus.

> Syphilis – Once the most common and dangerous of the STDs, it is now largely treated by antibiotics. It is caused by Treponema pallidum. The first sign of syphilis is a chancre, which is an unusual and painless sore on your penis or vagina. These sores usually clear up on their own.

However, if they do not clear up, syphilis can spread to other organs like your heart, liver, bones and joints. Over the years, it can involve your brain. This situation is unlikely now because syphilis gets treated and cured quickly in our modern world.

Is AIDs or HIV infection considered a STD?

Yes, of course.

HIV deserves a whole topic on its own. Briefly, it is caused by the HIV (Human Immunodeficiency) virus, which destroys the body's T-cells (immune system mechanism). This leads to the inability to fight off diseases. Opportunistic infections can occur, and also some rare cancers.

Nowadays, AIDs can be prevented by taking antiretroviral therapy early.

I have heard that hepatitis B can be transmitted through sex. Is this true?

Yes, this is very true. Viral hepatitis is indeed considered an STD. The hepatitis B virus (HBV) can lead to serious inflammation of the liver – viral hepatitis. This can lead to scarring of the liver and possibly lead to liver failure and liver cancer in the long-term.

After hearing all these scary descriptions, is there any treatment for STDs?

Prevention is always the best cure. Always use a condom, and if you are a woman, always make sure that your sexual partner uses a condom if you are not married or are suspicious of where your partner might have been.

The STDs caused by bacteria are treated by antibiotics. The STDs caused by viruses are treated by antivirals, though these are more difficult to treat.

If you have an STD, you will have to inform all your sex partners over the past year that you have it so that they can get tested and treated too.

> Dr YLM graduated as a medical doctor, and has been writing for many years on various subjects such as medicine, health, computers and entertainment. For further information, e-mail The information contained in this column is for general educational purposes only. Neither The Star nor the author gives any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to such information. The Star and the author disclaim all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

Five worst celebrity diets to avoid


Faddy weight-loss plans that may put a damper to your new year.

DIETS involving gulping air rather than food, avoiding gluten like the plague, and replacing sensible meals with booze rank as some of the worst celebrity diets to avoid.

With the approach of January, the British Dietetic Association (BDA) has shared its annual top five worst celebrity diets for the coming year. For the past three years, the Dukan Diet had topped the chart, but this year's new entry, the Breatharian Diet, has claimed the distinction of worst faddy weight-loss plan. Here's the rundown:

1. Breatharian diet – Skip meals and even water and just breathe air; at least that's the premise of this fad. While not wildly dissimilar to Madonna's alleged Air diet, this diet comes with serious health risks.

2. Biotyping – This diet claims to reduce body fat in trouble zones by balancing hormones. Famous followers include Boy George, but BDA experts warn that the plan's "supplements and pseudo-science" make it worth skipping.

3. Gluten-free diet – While Gwyneth Paltrow reportedly eschews gluten, the BDA says that while "important for those with coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity, there is no credible published research showing that a gluten-free diet leads to weight loss in other people." Of course, trimming back on breads, pastries, and cakes certainly won't hurt your waistline, but gluten-free doesn't mean calorie-free.

4. Alcorexia/Drunkorexia diet – Basically, a diet based on alcohol and little else. Followers "save up" their caloric intake from food for binge-drinking madness at parties.

5. Dukan Diet – The famous protein-heavy Dukan Diet, popularised by celebrities such as Carol Middleton (mom to Kate Middleton), Jennifer Lopez and Gisele Bundchen, is confusing, time consuming, rigid, and hard to sustain, the BDA claims. Side effects are likewise unappealing, with everything from lack of energy to constipation and bad breath. – AFP Relaxnews


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