Stopping Medicines Safely

Dear Dr. Eva, Is it really dangerous to stop medications without tapering off? People (me included) often seem to do it with no problems. Skeptical Dear Skeptical, It is true that many prescription medications can be stopped suddenly without problems. However, there are some kinds of medications that are dangerous to stop suddenly. Whether it is safe to stop a medication suddenly depends on two things: how the medicine is metabolized (broken down and eliminated from the body) and what condition is being treated. When a medicine is prescribed to treat a chronic problem like diabetes, high blood pressure, or […]

Can You Get Hepatitis C…… without having A and B first?

Dear Dr. Eva, I have been told that I have hepatitis C and also that I need to get shots to protect me from hepatitis A and hepatitis B. This does not make sense to me. If I have hepatitis C now, doesn’t that mean I already had A and B? Just Diagnosed Dear Just Diagnosed, Your question makes total sense and shows how confusing medical terminology sometimes can be. Hepatitis A, B, and C are not different stages of one disease: they are three different infections caused by three very different viruses. They are called A, B, and C […]

To Pap Or Not to Pap

Just to make sure we all start at the same baseline: a cervical Pap smear is done when a physician or other medical professional uses a small, soft plastic brush to collect cells from the surface of the cervix. The cervix is the lowest part of the uterus (womb.) The cervix can only be seen after a speculum, which is a plastic or metal tool shaped like two serving-size spoons, is placed in the vagina. The speculum exam is also called a “pelvic exam.” Many women assume that every pelvic exam includes a Pap smear, but that is not the […]

New HIV Medicines

More, better treatment options, and new approaches It’s been over 30 years since the first treatments for HIV became available. In that time, we learned that it takes three different HIV medicines, taken together, to successfully treat HIV. The first treatments caused lots of unpleasant side effects. Now, side effects are few and mild. We have come a long way, and the field is still evolving. It’s now generally agreed that the best way to treat any chronic disease is to limit the number of pills by using once-a-day medication, and this is true of HIV disease as well. More […]

What About Probiotics?

Dear Dr. Eva, Do you think probiotics are helpful for getting rid of diarrhea and yeast infections? Prefer Natural Dear Natural, There are several areas of the body which normally have large amounts of bacteria lining their surfaces. These areas include the vagina and parts of the gastrointestinal tract: the mouth and the colon (large intestine). The colon normally has over 400 different species of bacteria. These bacteria naturally live in our bodies, so we benefit from them without doing anything. Babies’ bodies are colonized by these healthy bacteria soon after birth. Because they are not harmful and can be […]

Hair Loss in Women

Dear Dr. Eva, I am a 36-year-old woman. For the last several years I’ve had ongoing hair loss. My hair is thinning all over my scalp. It’s not male-pattern-like baldness on the crown or the front hairline receding. My other hair areas like eyebrows and pubic area haven’t changed. Since I first noticed this, I’ve been very gentle with my hair. I don’t dye it, don’t treat it with any kind of chemicals, don’t even use hairdryers. I keep it fairly short, just down to my shoulders. But the hair loss has continued and now has gotten to the point […]

Transitioning as a Couple Sex change affects a partner, too

Dear Dr. Eva, My partner of several years is transitioning (female to male) and started hormones a few months ago. I am trying to be understanding, but it seems like such a self-centered process! It’s like being in a threesome: him, me, and “The Transition.” Sometimes it feels like he is so involved with The Transition that I could drop out of the threesome and he might not even miss me. He wants privacy, even secrecy as much as possible. He doesn’t want anyone to know he is transitioning – although everyone will eventually have to know when he changes […]

Summer Travel Health Risks From malaria to measles to Montezuma’s Revenge, be prepared!

Planning an international vacation this summer? Here is key information you can use to stay healthy and safe before, during, and after your vacation. Before you go – Most travel agencies and agents will give you information about health risks at your destination, but it’s up to you to make sure you get any vaccines or medicines you need before you go. If you need travel vaccines or medicines, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to get them at least six weeks before you leave. This is to allow the vaccines enough time to become effective. If you will […]

When is it Okay Not to Use a Condom?

Can viruses pass through condoms? Dear Dr. Eva, I heard that HIV and other viruses can get through pores in latex condoms because viruses are so much smaller than sperm. Is that true? Wondering Dear Wondering, No, it isn’t true. Latex is a continuous solid surface. It has no pores – that’s what makes it so effective. Multiple scientific studies have shown that the HIV virus cannot pass through latex condoms. The condom is 100 percent effective unless it tears. When a condom is worn, infections can only be passed if the condom breaks, tears, or slips off. Tearing and […]

Questions about Testosterone

Dear Dr. Eva, I am a 20-year-old trans man. I’ve been on testosterone for close to three years. I’ve developed a lot of facial and body hair, but my voice hasn’t changed much. How long do you have to be on testosterone before you get a significant voice change? Still High-pitched Dear High-pitched, Many trans guys do not experience significant voice change from testosterone. Any voice change a person does get will be complete in the first 18 months on testosterone. However, there are things you can do to make your speech sound masculine without having a lower-pitched voice. For […]