The Mis-Education of Sex: 10 Myths about STIs

Safe sex

Safe sex

MYTH 1: You can’t get an STD from oral sex.FACT: Yes, you can.

Don’t let anyone tell you that unprotected oral sex is 100% safe sex. Going down, giving head, blow jobs, going downtown, whatever you call it – if you do it or it’s done on you, you could be at risk for getting an STD. Especially if there’s an open sore or your gums are bleeding. Use a condom or dental dam when you have oral sex for better safety. There are a number of people who contracted herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HPV from unprotected oral sex.

MYTH 2: You can only get herpes when your partner is having an outbreak that you can see.

FACT: Viral shedding, what happens before an outbreak, contributes to most new infections.

You may be surprised to know that a lot of people have herpes and don’t even know it. It’s transmissible even when there are no visible signs or symptoms. Doctors recommend using barrier protection (Condoms, dental dam, female condoms) with a partner at all times who has herpes – even when he or she is between outbreaks. Symptoms don’t always show up. Of the almost 70 million people with genital herpes, 80 percent have no signs or can’t recognize them. Yeah, it’s amazing.


MYTH 3: Only “trashy” people get STDs.

FACT: STDs don’t discriminate.

Rich people get STDs. Poor people get them. Athletes get them. Math geeks get them. CEOs and professors get them. Even someone having sex for the first time can get an STD. The only people who have no risk of getting an STD are people who haven’t had sex or any kind of sexual contact.  What can you do? If you decide to have sex, always use a condom every time. Even if you’re already on another kind of birth control, like the Pill, you should still use a condom. That’s because condoms are the only type of birth control that reduces the risk of getting an STD.


MYTH 4: If you have an STD, believe me, you’ll see it and know it.

FACT: Many STDs and people who have them don’t have signs or symptoms.

Many STDs are silent. They don’t cause any symptoms at all. So it’s not a case of “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Unless, of course, you have microscopic, X-ray, DNA-detecting vision, sure by all means use that phrase. However, for most people, unless you get tested AND protect yourself from STDs there is no way to be 100% certain.  Bottom line, what we’re saying is – get tested if you are concerned about STDs, and always play sexual defense.


MYTH 5: If you have sex in a pool or hot tub, the chlorine will kill anything and everything.

FACT: Chlorine is NOT bleach, and it is not an disinfectant.

Good try. This is a suburban legend. Chlorine is not a disinfectant and will not kill an STD-causing bacteria or virus. It will not kill sperm. Chlorine is not a condom. A condom is a condom. And latex condoms in hot tubs can break down and become in effective.


MYTH 6: If you don’t have a condom, use plastic wrap.

FACT: Saran wrap is not latex and can break down during sex.

Who hasn’t seen or hear the scene in boomerang where he wrapped himself in saran wrap.  This is like MacGyver sex. Plastic wrap is not a good substitute for a condom. Most wraps have tiny holes and can break down. Health educators will, however, recommend plastic wrap to be used instead of a dental dam for oral sex but again this is not a substitute for a condom. A condom is a condom. But it’s still a risk. Use a condom and don’t improvise.


MYTH 7: Skin to skin contact isn’t enough. You can only get an STD from semen.

FACT: Skin to skin contact in some cases is all that’s needed.

While semen and blood can spread some STDs, such as HIV, herpes and syphilis can be spread with skin on skin contact. For example, when herpes flares up, an active sore appears. When this sore comes into contact with your skin or other moist areas like the mouth, throat, and areas with cuts or rashes, it can spread. It can also be spread before the blisters actually form.


MYTH 8: The Pill prevents STDs.

FACT: Birth control pills prevent babies, not sexually-transmitted infections.

Read the label. That’s why its called BIRTH control not STD control.  When they come out with a pill or vaccine for STDs, trust me… it will be flying off the shelves.


MYTH 9: Chlamydia and gonorrhea are no big deal and will go away on their own.

FACT: They may and they may not.

Here’s the bad news. You or your sex partner may have chlamydia or gonorrhea and not know it. And now the good news: both of these infections are curable with antibiotics. And, yes, untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea can be a big deal. Left untreated, these STDs can lead to infertility and something called Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) This disease harms the fallopian tubes in women and can cause a dangerous pregnancy called a “tubal pregnancy.” With guys, untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea can lead to an inflamed prostate, urethral scarring, infertility, or epididymitis.


MYTH 10: Two condoms are better than one.

FACT: Double Bagging (using two condoms) can cause the condoms to break.

You’d think so, but no. First – ouch. The CDC and the condom makers warn against this idea of two condoms. Why doe this occur? It’s about the friction between the two condoms. The condoms rub against each other during sex and increase the chance of one or both breaking or slipping off. One well fitting condom is enough.  No need for two.

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