Shortie Says – 3/5/10

Dear Shortie,
Sorry to sound ignorant, but how do you know if you have an STD?
– Scared To Death

Dear Scared To Death,
No need to apologize, because many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have no symptoms at all. For example, 80 percent of women and 40 percent of men diagnosed with chlamydia may not experience any symptoms. When they do occur, the symptoms of sexually transmitted infections can be varied: a change in vaginal discharge, penile discharge, irritation and pain during sex. You can also develop lumps and ulcers that burn with urination. If these sound familiar, consult your doctor.

Remember, every sexually active person is at risk for STDs if a partner is infected. To help reduce your risk, use safer sex guidelines.

Dear Shortie,
I have been watching the Olympics lately, and I am extremely motivated to get in shape. I’ve read that swimming may be a great exercise, but not for weight loss. Is is true?
-Fat Swimmer

Dear Fat Swimmer,
Swimming is a wonderful form of exercise. It uses almost all the major muscle groups and places a vigorous demand on the heart and lungs. It develops muscle strength and endurance, and improves posture and flexibility. The buoyancy factor makes it especially useful for people who are overweight, pregnant or have leg or lower back problems. In order to lose weight, you might want to supplement your swimming regime (speeding up your pace a little bit and increasing the length of your swimming sessions, if necessary) with some good-paced, arm-swinging walks.

If your primary reason for swimming is to lose weight, cut down on your caloric intake. In addition, remember to speed up strokes and increase duration. A swimmer doing a brisk forward crawl will often burn as much as 11 calories per minute.

Dear Shortie,
Could an abortion increase the risk of problems in a subsequent pregnancy?
-Confused and Worried

Dear Confused and Worried,
Only rarely would an abortion cause problems in a subsequent pregnancy. During a medical abortion, a woman takes oral medications — such as mifepristone or methotrexate — in early pregnancy to abort the fetus. Medical abortions haven’t been linked to infertility or complications in subsequent pregnancies.

During a surgical abortion, the fetus is removed from the uterus — often with a vacuum device or a curette — as an outpatient surgical procedure. Rarely, a surgical abortion may weaken the cervix or cause scarring on the inside of the uterus. If such damage occurs, surgery may be needed to correct the problems before a woman can conceive again or carry a subsequent pregnancy to term.

If you’ve had an abortion and are concerned about the possible impact on a future pregnancy, consult your health care provider. He or she can help you understand the potential issues in your case.