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Infections as a result of masturbation?
Aug 27, 1996

From a young age, I have been engaging in masturbation and sometimes with another male. Now I am still engaging the act but the second party is not there. Is there a possibility that I would get viral infections as a result of the sexual act? What are the symptoms?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

As far as HIV or other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's) are concerned, no matter what you do by yourself, you will not be at risk for HIV or other STD's. These diseases are only passed from an infected person, directly to another person. So no matter what you do by yourself, you are safe from HIV and other STD's.

As far as getting STD's from mutual masturbation with another person, for HIV, this is a low risk activity. There would however be a chance of getting other STD's while engaging in mutual masturbation, especially if you come in direct contact with any types of lesions, growths, or discharges from your partner. Diseases where you can get infected from contact with lesions/growths include herpes, syphilis, genital warts, and chancroid. By having direct physical contact with the other person's body during sex, you could also get lice and scabies.

When we're talking about the symptoms of many of the STD's, symptoms can include (but are not limited to) unusual growths or lesions (even ones that don't hurt), unusual discharges from the penis or vagina, a stinging sensation when you pee (urinate), itching in the genital area (penis/vagina etc), or pain in the genital area. Some STD's can also cause these symptoms in the rectum/anus.

It's important to know that a person can have an STD and have no symptoms at all, and still transmit the infection to others. And some symptoms related to STD's can look like the symptoms of other illnesses. For example, a burning sensation when you pee (urinate) can be due to STD's like chlamydia, gonorrhea, or they can be due to non-sexually transmitted diseases, like a urinary tract infection. The only way we can diagnose an STD is through laboratory tests.

Since I'm talking about the symptoms of STD's, let me review the symptoms of HIV/AIDS as well. In regard to the symptoms related to full blown AIDS itself, they don't usually begin until literally years after infection. Before that time, a person can look and feel totally healthy with no symptoms at all. As for the specific symptoms of AIDS, there are no specific symptoms you could list. AIDS is actually a group of diseases, and therefore you're dealing with groups of symptoms. Not everyone with AIDS has every disease and therefore not everyone has every symptom. Every symptom of AIDS looks like the symptoms of other illnesses. Symptoms can include severe weight loss, fevers, drenching night sweats, fatigue, severe diarrhea, and the list goes on and on. Generally the symptoms tend to last for weeks or months at a time, and do not go away by themselves (not without treatment). Symptoms do not begin until an average of 10 years after infection. You can have HIV and even full blown AIDS and have no symptoms at all!

Generally speaking, if you have any symptoms that last for more than 2 weeks and do not go away, or if you have any symptoms that are very severe, always seek medical attention. You can't assume any symptom is HIV/AIDS or STD related, until you get laboratory tests.

So in summary, masturbation by yourself is totally safe from HIV and other STD's. As far as mutual masturbation is concerned, this is a low risk for HIV, but can be risky for other STD's. If you think that you may have symptoms of an STD (see above), or if you think you may have been exposed to an STD (even if you have no symptoms), it's important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

If you have further questions, please e-mail me at "nvhotline@aol.com" or call me at 1-800-842-AIDS.



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