STD Myths & Misconceptions

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STDs don’t discriminate. You could have one and not even know it. Learn some of the common myths and misconceptions associated with getting an STD, who’s most at risk and how to protect yourself.

STD is an acronym for sexually transmitted disease, is also known as a STI (sexually transmitted infection), and is passed from person to person via sexual acts, which includes those intimate acts without intercourse.

What may surprise you is that there are close to 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted disease each year with 1 out of 4 teenagers being infected. Of that number, young adults between the ages of 15-24 and African American women are among those with the highest rate of infection. The common myths and misconceptions concerning how one can contract an STD may have a direct link to why there are so many new cases.

10 Common STD Myths & Misconceptions

1. You Cannot Get an STD from Oral or Anal Sex

It is a chilling fact that there are people who actually think this is true. Unprotected oral sex and anal sex can lead to an STD if there are tiny tears in the mouth or anal canal. If you’ve ever brushed your teeth and bled than you can contract an STD via oral sex. Likewise, if you’ve ever been constipated, there is a chance that there are tiny fissures (tears) which are openings to the bloodstream and you too are a contender for any one of these diseases. Syphilis for example, is spread during the first and second stages by skin contact, and can enter the body via the mouth and anus.

2. If You Have an STD, You’ll See It and Know It

Chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and HIV/AIDS are just a few STDs that can show no symptoms in women. More often, the symptoms are mistaken for a urinary tract infection or a vaginal yeast infection. In fact, for some people with HIV/AIDS it could take up to 10 years for symptoms to manifest. As for herpes, 80 percent of the men and women who are diagnosed don’t know they have it. Likewise, many women are unaware that they have an STD, as a normal pap test won’t detect it.

3. Only Guys and Gals with Multiple Partners Get STDs

Sexual abstinence is one way to protect against STDs. However, abstinence may mean different things to different people. Your partner might view oral sex as still being abstinent and you’ve just read that unprotected oral sex can still lead to an std. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if the person is technically considered a virgin, if he or she has engaged in the act of oral sex (giving or receiving) they can be infected. Likewise, you can be in a monogamous relationship with a wonderful person that doesn’t know he or she is infected since many stds don’t show signs early on or these mild symptoms are dismissed as the flu.

4. I Can Only Get Herpes If My Partner Is Having an Outbreak That Is Visible

This is one of the common herpes myths. If you believe this than chances are you may already have had unprotected sex with your partner who has herpes, which means you too are now at risk. Herpes is a tricky disease and many people are under the false assumption that if there isn’t an outbreak or visual sores than they are safe. Viral shedding happens just before or after an outbreak and that means that an infected person can pass the disease during this time.

5. If I Have Sex in a Pool or Hot Tub, the Chlorine Will Kill Anything and Everything

Just think about this one for a minute: if chlorine could kill an STD, wouldn’t that be the treatment given rather than certain very strong antibiotics and other medications? In fact, chlorine can break down the latex in a condom increasing your risk of getting an STD and pregnant, if you are a woman.

6. You Can’t Get STD from Skin to Skin Contact

Syphilis and herpes are two such stds that you can get skin to skin. Even if sores and rashes are not present, there may be tiny unnoticeable tears in the mouth and other moist areas that leave you vulnerable.

7. I Can’t Get an STD If I Only Ever Slept With Virgins

This goes along with myth #3, a virgin means a person has never indulged in sexual intercourse/penetration but it doesn’t speak to oral sex and in some cases anal sex. Unless the virgin in question has never preformed any type of sexual act, which includes kissing and fondling, than that person is still a candidate for a STD. Frottage (dry humping) is thought to be safe but if performed skin-to-skin, there is a definite possibility of being exposed if either person is infected.

8. You Can Get an STD from A Toilet Seat

You might have heard this one growing up; that you could get just about any disease from sitting on a public toilet. You would think with, as much traffic as a public toilet can receive this would be true. Although bacteria are rampant in places like this, STDs cannot be contracted this way. Bacteria require a warm place to thrive and a cold toilet seat isn’t their first choice.

9. My Partner Got Tested “Negative”, So It Is Safe

Although seeing a negative result come back after testing is a great feeling, for HIV/AIDs a negative result doesn’t mean much since it could take 3 to 6 months for this virus to show up in test results. Unless, you haven’t had any sexual contact 6 months prior, a negative result doesn’t mean that the disease isn’t lying dormant. Likewise, unless you request for STD testing on all major infections, a single specific test for herpes won’t show other STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea or syphilis as positive.

10. If I Have STDs, I Can Be Cured With Antibiotics

It is true that syphilis, gonorrhea and Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics but unfortunately, not all STDs respond to antibiotics and in many cases sme STDs uch as herpes and HIV/AIDS have no available cure as of yet.

What Can I Do To Protect Myself And Prevent STD?

Having an active sex life does not have to be a constant game of Russian roulette. While total sexual abstinence is the only way to provide 100 percent protection from STDs, it is not practical and there are safe sex measures that can be implemented to protect sexually active people.

Practice safe sex every single time. Use condoms, female condoms, dental damns, gloves and whatever other barrier methods that are appropriate for your situation. Get tested regularly for sexually transmitted disease and encourage your partner to do so as well. Avoid having sex when you are intoxicated because it may impair your ability to make safe sexual choices.

At the end of the day you must be responsible for protecting yourself. Don’t be afraid to say no to unsafe sexual activity. Be open and honest with your partners and try to maintain a monogamous relationship if at all possible. If you have sexual urges that need to be fulfilled and you are not in a relationship the safest sexual partner you have available to you is yourself. The bonus is there is no way to get an STD from masturbating.


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