5 Terrible Misconceptions About STIs That Might Cost You Your Health
by Rachel Jackson
With healthcare systems improving and sexual health education on the rise, STIs are declining in many areas of the world. It's important to note that declining and disappearing are two entirely different things. Misinformation or misunderstandings are still a common culprit in how people contract sexually transmitted infections. Myths can cost you your health - before you download that dating app, make sure you know how to keep yourself safe.
1. Condoms Prevent All STIs
Condoms, when used perfectly and without oil based lubricants every single time, are about 90% effective in the prevention of pregnancy. People make mistakes, which makes the condom's practical effectiveness closer to 85%. These rates are the same for infections that are transmitted via bodily fluids. Herpes can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, which can happen whether or not a condom is used. If your partner may have an STD, the only real way to entirely eliminate your risk of contracting that STD is to abstain until your partner has a clean bill of health from their doctor.
2. STIs Will Clear On Their Own
If left untreated, even curable STIs can and will become worse. Syphilis can affect the brain, leading to the loss of mental faculties and eventually death. Unchecked gonorrhea has a history of causing irreparable infertility. Even if you're no longer feeling the effects of an STI, it may still be present in your body. The only way to treat or cure an STI is medically - home remedies won't work, and your immune system isn't equipped to fight off these infections alone.
3. STIs Always Come With Symptoms
Both gonorrhea and chlamydia are notorious for a lack of symptoms in some people. People can actively have these infections for weeks or even months without being aware. HIV can take weeks to manifest symptoms, and it's uncurable. You can pass it to someone without knowing that you have it, and you'll both have the disease for life. The only way to know for sure whether or not you have an STI is by taking an STI test. If you don't get tested, you could be jeopardizing your own health as well as the health of your sexual partners.
4. Good Hygiene Prevents STIs
Good hygiene is a good policy. Keeping clean is necessary for the health of your body, but doing so will not prevent STIs. It might prevent common bacterial infections (and in some cases urinary tract infections), but a little soap and water won't wash away an STI. Even washing up immediately following sexual contact cannot prevent you from contracting an STI you've been exposed to. Keep clean, but don't rely on your cleanliness as though it were immunity.
5. You Can Only Get STIs Through Vaginal Intercourse
While STIs are most commonly contracted via vaginal intercourse, any kind of sex can lead to a sexually transmitted infection. Oral sex and anal sex both involve bodily fluids and bodily openings, and that's the only kind of contact required for a sexually transmitted infection to affect another person. Skin to skin contact of any kind can spread herpes if one individual is experiencing a flare up or outbreak. STIs don't discriminate based on the kind of sexual contact you have with your partner.
Remember to schedule regular STI tests with your health care practitioner, especially if you're sexually active with multiple partners or involved in a non-monogamous relationship of any kind. If your partner has been active with someone else, they might bring an STI home to you. Transparency and honesty are vital for both your physical health and the health of your relationship.
About the author
Rachel is a mother of 2 beautiful boys. She loves to hike and write about travelling, education and business. She is a Senior Content Manager at Populationof.net - an online resource with information about world population.
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