[Question #2832] STD Exposure

41 months ago
Dear Dr,

Thank you for your responses in advance. I am a man who lives in Texas and had an unprotected (vaginal sex) encounter with a woman of unknown status that I met at a bar. She was in her mid 40's early 50's. Had some very unusual symptoms that followed about 2 weeks after the encounter which were.  Severe headaches (located mainly in back of head), severe muscle spasms/twitching in calves, seemed like lymph node swellage all over body, muscle pains in side of buttocks and lower back, rectal discharge (have never received anything in my rectum). Obviously these symptoms were worrisome so I went and had STD screening done for HSV, EBV, HIV, Chmaydia, Syph, Hep abc, and all were negative. Tested multiple times out to 6 months post exposure with symptoms persisting. Was given 2 rounds of doxycycline which were 7-10 days courses to no avail.  Have met with multiple doctors/clinics and nobody seems to concerned and just keep telling me I'm fine due to negative tests. The symptoms have finally subsided somewhat and I'm trying to move on with my life but I have not received a diagnosis for my symptoms.  Are these symptoms familiar to any std/virus that you might know of that I haven't tested for? I am concerned about having unprotected sex with my girlfriend  due to no diagnosis and the possibility of infecting her with something I don't know about. Any insight is apprecaiated.
41 months ago
I had a CBC done as well and nothing out of the ordinary except for high cholesterol and Dr said cholesterol was possibly affecting my kidney function? Don't know if that's a coincidence or has anything to do with sexual exposure. 
41 months ago
I forgot to mention that my neck had gotten so stiff at one point as well that i could hardly turn my head. Sorry for adding but wanna make sure you have all info
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
41 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

We get many questions about symptoms similar to yours following unsafe or questionable sexual exposures. Our answers are always consistent. Almost certainly your symptoms were merely coincidental in timing with the sexual exposure two weeks earlier, not from any infection you caught during those events. No STD or HIV causes symptoms like yours; and the tests you had all are very reliable. It seems you were seriously overtested and over-treated; the doxycycline really didn't make much sense. (What infection[s] did you think it might have treated?) As for the timing, there simply is no reason to assume that this has anything to do with the sexual exposure. Think about it this way:  in the 1-2 months before your symptoms started, you not only had that sexual exposure, but also had many nonsexual contacts with other people; ate many meals; and could have been exposoed to any number of environmental toxins. There is no particular reason to attribute your symptoms to the sexual event than to these other potential exposures. That said, I do not believe your symptoms are due to any kind of toxin or infection. Most of them are typical for the physical manifestations of various psychological conditions, i.e. anxiety, stress, depression, etc. (That does NOT mean the symptoms are "in your head". They are not. But psychological stress does cause physical symptoms. My guess is that your own doctors have advised you about this possibility.

So I agree with  the "multiple doctors/clinics" you have seen and would advise you to go on with your life without further concern. And for sure you can safely resume unprotected sex with your regular partner, which I would have advised you do long before now. Do not have any more tests. If you remain concerned and simply cannot shake your worries despite the repeated, reasoned, science-based reassurance you have had -- probably from some of your doctors, and now on this forum -- you should discuss the possibility of counseling with your primary care provider. I suggest it from compassion, not criticism.

I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD

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41 months ago
Dr. HHH,

Thank you for your timely and informative response. What concerned me the most was the rectal discharge (lime green) that I had never experienced before and all these symptoms hit me at once which lead to my panic. I think they prescribed me doxycycline due to me pushing for some sort of medication for my symptoms. This woman is to be my wife and we wanna have children and I didn't want this one time bone headed mistake ruin all of that.
41 months ago
Something had to have caused the rectal discharge? I've never experienced that before in my life. When I think about all these symptoms and no diagnosis you become worrisome of the unkown. That's when the mind wonders. 
41 months ago
Dr HHH,

You're saying there is no STD that could have caused or is causing these symptoms? And I can be completely cofident that I'm not risking infecting my girlfriend from this exposure? You've never had anyone come in your clinic with these type of symptoms being STD related?  I apologize for the many comments but I'm just trying to get it all out there before our thread is closed? 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
41 months ago
I should have commented specifically on your anal discharge. Sorry. That's the only symptom you describe that might suggest an STD in some circumstances. However, you cannot catch a rectal STD without sexual exposure of the rectum -- i.e. penetration by a partner's penis. No chance from vaginal or oral sex. There are several possible non-STD causes of anal discharge:  perirectal abscess, inflammatory bowel disease e.g. ulcerative colitis or proctitis, and others. Abdominal cramping, anal bleeding, diarrhea, or blood in stool would all go along with these, but would not necessarily be present. Anal warts or cancer could do it (and are not all that rare in heterosexual men without rectal sexual exposure). Whatever the cause of this problem, I am confident it is not from the sexual exposure you described above.

You need to see a physician who understands anal, rectal, and intestinal problems. Ask your PCP about it, or perhaps go directly to a gastroenterologist. In the meantime, I repeat that I am confident you don't have anything you could transmit to your regular partner.
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41 months ago
Thanks for the reassurance Dr. HHH. Is it ok if I say "I love you".  Like a brother not a lover kinda way. 
41 months ago
Last question: have you ever told someone they could feel confident that they have nothing they could transmit to their regular partner and been wrong in saying that? 
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
41 months ago
Not that I am aware of. Further, in 12 years of doing online forums, with a large number (at least a couple hundred) questions like yours -- i.e. various aches, pains, tingling, and other bodily symptoms -- not one ever reported later that they had been diagnosed with HIV or other STD. So my track record is 100%!

That completes the two follow-up comments and replies included with each question, and so concludes this thread. I hope the discussion has been helpful. Thanks for your kind comments (however exaggerated!) about our services. Best wishes to you.

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