When it comes to STDs not knowing the full truth can be dangerous. In this article we bust the biggest myths and misconceptions on everything from anonymous herpes tests to HIV being a death sentence (it’s not) to the best ways to protect yourself.
Myth: I can tell if I or someone else has an STD
No you can’t.
Many STDs start out with very benign symptoms, if there are any at all. So you may feel perfectly healthy or have just a few symptoms without realizing it is an STD.
The only sure way to know if you or someone else has an STD is by getting an STD test. If you think you have an STD, either because of a couple of strange symptoms or a recent sexual encounter, get tested.
You can get tested online or using a home testing kit.
Myth: I cannot get an STD from oral or anal sex
Any kind of sex, whether vaginal, oral or anal, can spread an STD infection from one person to another.
Germs that cause STDs hide in body fluids including semen, vaginal secretions, blood and sometimes saliva. So any contact that involves an exchange of these fluids can potentially cause an infection.
Some STDs like genital warts and genital herpes can also be spread through simple skin contact.
So abstaining from traditional intercourse and having only anal or oral sex will not protect you from STDs.
Myth: I can prevent an STD by using birth control
This is one of the most common myths and it’s especially dangerous for women. Someone might tell you that because you are already using some form of birth protection you don’t need to worry about STDs.
That’s absolutely wrong. Birth control methods like the pill, ring or IUD do a great job of preventing pregnancies but they will not protect you from an STD. As I discuss in the next point, even condoms are not a surefire protection.
Whatever form of birth control you are using, you should always take steps to protect yourself from an STD.
Myth: Condoms offer 100% STD protection
No they do not. This is another very common myth.
There is no condom that provides foolproof protection against STDs.
Even without factoring in potential accidents like breakage, condoms will not completely prevent the spread of an infection. This is because there are many STDs that can still be spread via skin-to-skin contact.
So those areas not covered by a condom are still at risk.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a condom. They greatly reduce the risk of an STD. Just make sure you use it properly (check expiry date, don’t use oil etc.) and opt for latex if possible. If you are allergic to latex use a polyurethane condom.
Myth: You can get an STD from a shared toilet
Unless you are having sex on the toilet seat you are unlikely to catch an STD from a toilet, even a public one.
This myth caught on a few decades ago when there was peak hysteria about STDs like HIV. The truth is that the microscopic organisms that cause STDs cannot last more than a few minutes on a toilet seat. They promptly dry out and die.
Even if you happen to use the toilet when the bugs on their last dying breath it is still very unlikely that you’ll get infected because there are no vulnerable areas in contact with the toilet seat.
Myth: I can only get an STD by having sex
There are many ways to get an STD without having sex. Some obvious ones include sharing needles, razors and other sharp objects.
Fellatio or cunnilingus (oral sex on man or woman respectively), though they are technically sex, can also spread STDs through open sores and wounds.
Other non-sexual ways you can get an STD include.
>> Skin-to-skin contact.
>> Sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, towels and swimwear.
>> In a tanning bed. You can get some STDs like herpes from the tanning bed if the person before you had it.
>> During a blood transfusion. But this is very unlikely because of the strict screening measures used by hospitals.