Harvard Perspectives on Prostate Disease

Ask the doctor

This quarter, Perspectives' editorial board member Harvey B. Simon, M.D., answers your questions about prostate health

Q. I had a nerve-sparing prostatectomy a year ago and can usually get an erection. Do my girlfriend and I still need to use condoms to protect against sexually transmitted diseases even though I no longer ejaculate when I reach orgasm?

A. In a word, yes. Even if a man doesn't ejaculate, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can still be passed from one partner to another during sexual activity. Some diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis, are transmitted when infected vaginal or urethral secretions come into contact with surfaces that secrete or contain mucus — the vagina and cervix in women and the urethra in men. That means a man who has had a prostatectomy can become infected if, for example, vaginal secretions from a woman with chlamydia enter his urethra.

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