What Sexually Active People Need to Know About Monkeypox


Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian households. As a result, most individuals dealing with sexual health issues or trying to find information about sex often resort to unverified online sources or follow the unscientific advice of their friends.

To address the widespread misinformation about sex, News18.com is running this weekly sex column, titled ‘Let’s Talk Sex’. We hope to initiate conversations about sex through this column and address sexual health issues with scientific insight and nuance.

The column is written by sexologist Prof (Dr) Saransh Jain. In this article, Dr Jain will discuss various ways you can prevent and improve saggy breasts without surgery.

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. It causes flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, and a rash that can take weeks to clear. There’s no proven treatment for monkeypox, but it usually goes away on its own.

Over the last few weeks, there have been reports of an atypical outbreak of monkeypox in different regions of the world where the disease is not usually found. The most likely route of transmission in the current outbreak appears to be close skin-to-skin contact and close respiratory contact during sexual activities. The virus has been reported to be present in semen, but the role of semen in transmission has not been demonstrated yet. Body fluids, including respiratory tract droplets, allow monkeypox to be spread during sexual activity.

What is monkeypox and how is it spread?

Monkeypox is a rare viral disease which may look like pimples or blisters, sometimes with a flu-like illness. It was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease occurred in groups of monkeys being used for research. It does not normally spread easily between people as it requires very close physical contact to allow the virus to enter the body. It can spread to anyone through close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact including:

  • Contact with respiratory secretions.
  • Oral, anal, and vaginal sex or touching the genitals (penis, testicles, labia, and vagina) or anus of a person with monkeypox.Hugging, massage, and kissing.
    Direct contact with monkeypox rash, scabs, or body fluids from a person with monkeypox.
  • Prolonged face-to-face contact.
  • Touching fabrics and objects during sex that were used by a person with monkeypox and that have not been disinfected, such as bedding, towels, and sex toys.
  • Having multiple or anonymous sex partners may increase your chances for exposure to monkeypox. Limiting your number of sex partners may reduce the possibility of exposure.

Researchers are still trying to better understand if virus could be present in semen, vaginal fluids, or other body fluids.

What are the symptoms?

Someone who has contracted monkeypox usually starts to show symptoms from around 6-13 days after contact with an infected, symptomatic person, or their belongings, but it can take up to 21 days. The most common symptom is an evolving rash that develops from vesicles into blisters. This also includes:

  • Flu-like symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, sore throat, cough, swollen lymph nodes, chills, or exhaustion.
  • If someone has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later.
  • The rash may be located on or near the genitals or anus but could also be on other areas like the hands, feet, chest, or face.
  • The rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing.
  • The rash can look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.
  • The rash may also be inside the body, including the mouth, vagina, or anus.

Monkeypox can be spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of skin has formed. This can take several weeks.

How can you prevent Monkeypox Virus?

The best way to prevent this virus is to decrease human contact with infected animals and limit person-to-person spread. This includes:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with monkeypox.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose when around others.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Use personal protective equipment (PPE) when caring for people infected with the virus.
  • Avoid contact with infected animals (especially sick or dead animals).

While so far, most cases have appeared in men who have sex with men, health officials have cautioned that this isn’t a disease that’s isolated to any one community. There are no treatments specifically for monkeypox virus infections. However, monkeypox and smallpox viruses are genetically similar, which means that antiviral drugs and vaccines developed to protect against smallpox may be used to prevent and treat monkeypox virus infections.

If you have symptoms of monkeypox, you should talk to your healthcare provider, even if you don’t think you have had contact with someone who has monkeypox.

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