STDs/STIs: Myths & Misconceptions
Sexually transmitted infections and the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) they lead to can pass from person to person and cause a lot of damage to reproductive systems and more.
STDs occur when bacteria from an STI enter the body and begin to multiply. The infection then progresses into a disease that interrupts the body’s normal functions.
You should take precautions so that you don't become infected, and if the worst happens, you would want to get treatment as fast as possible and make sure you don't pass the infection on. You especially don't want to listen to any hearsay from friends or uninformed blogs. Making sure you have the facts is important, and here are some myths that need to be debunked immediately.
Myth: Condoms always prevent STIs.
Reality: Barrier methods of birth control lower the risk of infecting someone with an STI. However, condoms can break or slide off during sex, and when that happens, exposure to STIs is possible.
HPV, a sexually transmitted infection, and syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, are passed via skin-to-skin contact, which means a condom may not be adequate protection if the infected area isn’t covered.
It’s also important to note that lambskin condoms do not protect against STIs because the natural pores in the material are large enough for bacteria and viruses to pass through.
Myth: Having an STI means you’re unclean.
Reality: Just as with developing a skin infection or catching a cold, a sexually transmitted infection is not an indicator you’re unhygienic. Getting an STI means first of all that you have to be more cautious in the future, and that means having a conversation with your sexual partner(s) about their medical status and using barrier methods of contraception to lower your risk of getting an STI in the first place.
Most sexually transmitted infections can be cured with medication when caught in the early stages, so be responsible and get tested between partners.
Myth: You’ll know if you have an STI.
Reality: STIs often don’t present symptoms, meaning you can pass them along to sexual partners for years without knowing. Also, some symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection can be confused with those of other conditions, including yeast or urinary tract infections (UTI), so you don't even know you have one.
Symptoms of an STI may take time to develop in your body, and that's if they develop at all. However, this doesn’t mean the sexually transmitted infection isn’t doing damage to your body. If the STI goes untreated, it could lead to long-term problems, including chronic pelvic pain, infertility and even cancer.
Myth: STIs can go away on their own.
Reality: It's true that some STIs can go away on their own, but by the time your immune system has fought off the infection, irreparable damage may have already been done to your body.
It’s also quite difficult to self-diagnose a sexually transmitted infection. Your symptoms may come and go, leading you to believe that your STI has been cured when it really hasn’t.
Some people believe if given enough time, the body can cure an STI on its own. Although possible in some cases, some STIs can hang around for months, even years, when they’re not treated, and that means they can wreak havoc to your body.
If you think you may have a sexually transmitted infection, it’s best to see a professional so they can run some tests and prescribe medication to ensure your STI has been cured.
Myth: Getting an STI means your partner cheated.
Reality: Yes, that scenario could well be the case. But evidence of a sexually transmitted infection is not always proof positive your partner was unfaithful.
Even if you and your partner are in a monogamous relationship, the STI may have been one your partner contracted before entering it. A sexually transmitted infection can have an incubation period lasting for months to years and might only be coming apparent now. It could also be the recurrence of an STI that was diagnosed before your relationship began but was not treated successfully.
Safe sexual practices can help keep us free of sexually transmitted infections and from spreading them. Now that you know the truth about STIs and STDs, you can do your part to minimize the spread and keep yourself safe.