Thanks to decades of dedicated scientific research, a lot of sexually transmitted infections aren’t so scary anymore. Many are able to be treated with antibiotics and you can move on, but that doesn’t make them pleasant, especially when there are still a lot of people living in ignorant bliss. There are many things you need to know to enjoy sex and protect your sexual health at the same time. You may believe the following STI myths, but they’re completely false.
You’re tested for STIs every time you get a pap.
If you’re interested in getting tested, then you need to say so. A pap smear doesn’t specifically test for STIs — it screens for cervical cancer and any changes in the cells of a woman’s cervix, according to Web MD.
You can get herpes from a toilet seat.
There’s no need to hover over a public toilet seat to avoid herpes! You can only contract herpes from direct skin to skin contact, according to American Sexual Health Association. You can’t get any other STIs from a seat, either, because they don’t survive outside of the body for a long period of time.
Being around someone who’s HIV positive is dangerous.
Many HIV positive people were stigmatized in the past, but now that we know more about the disease, we know that it can only be passed through blood, vaginal fluid, breast milk, and semen.
HIV can be cured.
Medicine surely has come a long way, and although AIDS and HIV is no longer a death sentence, there is still no cure. It’s possible for someone to undergo treatment and bring the virus down to an “undetectable level.” However, this just means their status won’t come up in a blood test but the virus is still present in the body, according to AIDS Action Committee.
People who have an STI are promiscuous.
You should never assume something about a person with an STI. Perhaps they contracted it from a cheating partner. Maybe they were trying to be smart by using a condom but it broke. It only takes one person to give it to you, so it says nothing about the number of partners they’ve been with or their morals.
You only need to get tested if you’re showing symptoms.
There are many STIs that show no symptoms at all but can still be passed on to your sex partner, according to Mayo Clinic. If left untreated, many of these can get worse and harder to manage. Make sure to routinely get checked even if you feel or look “OK.”
Douching can help prevent STIs.
Some women practice douching not only to take care of odor and to keep the vagina clean, but because they sincerely think it will keep them healthy. However, it doesn’t prevent STIs — it can actually increase your risk! According to Women’s Health, douching strips normal bacteria that can protect you from infection, so next time, skip it and stick to water.
Testing is expensive.
You can get tested for free through NHS at genitourinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinics. Search for your nearest clinic on FPA’s website.
Lesbians don’t get STIs.
Everyone who engages in sexual activity can be at risk for getting an STIs, including lesbians. Things like sharing sex toys, skin-to-skin contact, menstrual blood, vaginal fluids, and oral sex could lead to STIs being transmitted, so be sure to practice safe sex.
STIs aren’t that big of a deal.
You definitely shouldn’t stress out and have a panic attack over an STI, but you can’t be lazy about getting it treated, either! It’s important to catch these things in the early stages or else you can risk your health and fertility.
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