STDs Expert Forum
Possible Exposure at Gynecologist Appointment
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Possible Exposure at Gynecologist Appointment

Hello, a few days ago I went to my annual gynecologist appointment and after the exam was finished I was left to change into my clothes and (without thinking) inserted my entire finger into my vagina to push my NuvaRing birth control back into place.  I know I touched the wall of my vagina and didn't think anything of it until afterwards when I realized I had not washed my hands prior to this and could have potentially introduced STD/HIV/Herpes that were present in the office...

My questions are
1) what are the risks I could have given myself an STD (in particular Herpes or HIV) by doing this?
2) if in worse case scenario if I had touched someone else's vaginal fluids/blood that had been on the table or in the exam room before me-what would the risk be of transmitting an STD (Herpes/HIV) to myself from this?

Thanks, very distressed female
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Welcome to the Forum.  The event you describe carries no risk for acquisition of any STD, including HSV and HIV.  For starters, clinicians tend to be quite fastidious in cleaning their rooms, examination tables, etc. between patients.  Further, the chance that the patient who was there before you had an STD is low- most people do not have STDs.  Finally and most importantly, the organisms which cause STDs are not very tough and die quickly in exposure to room temperature, drying in the environment, etc.  I am unaware of anyone ever acquiring an STD through the sort of exposure that you describe.  I would not worry.

As for your specific questions:

1) what are the risks I could have given myself an STD (in particular Herpes or HIV) by doing this?
Essentially zero.

2) if in worse case scenario if I had touched someone else's vaginal fluids/blood that had been on the table or in the exam room before me-what would the risk be of transmitting an STD (Herpes/HIV) to myself from this?
Still zero.

I hope these answers are helpful.  EWH
5 Comments
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Thank you so much for your response...one last question is there any prophylaxis (HIV prophylaxis or acyclovir) I should take "just in case"?
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also I forgot to mention the finger I used had small cuts on it from my excyema- would this have changed the risk at all for me transmitting an STD to myself (either by touching the surfaces or by touching my vagina with the finger)?
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also one last thought- should I call the office to determine if there was a patient with STDs in the exam room before me to determine if I need to take prophylaxis?
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sorry really one last question- if I did introduce an std bacteria/virus could they have lived longer inside to infect me because of the extra lubricant that was in my vagina after the exam?
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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