Whether you call them STIs or STDs, they’re scary and concerning. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or diseases (STDs) have been around for a while, and protecting yourself against them is key. There’s a lot of information out there surrounding these, but can you trust everything you read? We’re debunking a few commonly held STI myths so you know what you have to worry about and what you don’t.
What Is an STI?
Before we dive into the debunking, let’s learn more about what sexually transmitted infections are. They are illnesses that impact your sexual and reproductive well-being and have negative health effects. As reported by the World Health Organization, over one million new STIs are transmitted each day. With that being said, these diseases are pretty common and, thus, important to educate yourself on.
Myth #1: You Can Visually Spot an STI
Many people have the idea that you can visually spot an STI on your partner. With that mindset, people think if they don’t see anything, they must be in the clear. It’s dangerous to believe that as it’s just not true. Common symptoms of various STIs include vaginal discharge, sores on genitals, painful intercourse, and itchiness. While those may be outward symptoms, many infections may have no outward symptoms at all. In fact, some individuals may not even know they’re afflicted with the disease for that reason. So, don’t assume you’ll see an issue if one exists and use that method as protection.
Myth #2: STIs Clear up on Their Own
A dangerous myth denotes that STIs will clear up on their own without treatment. This is not true for most of these afflictions. In fact, many of them could pose long-term health impacts if they’re not treated properly. Always seek medical treatment if you suspect you’re suffering from an STI and never assume that the issue will go away without the help of a medical professional.
Myth #3: You Can Get an STI from a Public Restroom
It’s commonly believed that you can contract an STI specifically from a public toilet. Thankfully, that’s a myth that holds no weight. STIs can only exist on one’s body and die outside of a living, breathing environment. So, you wouldn’t be able to catch one from using a public restroom. (However, it’s still vital to practice sound hygiene in public restrooms.) But rest assured that STIs can only spread from person to person contact, not from surfaces.
Myth #4: You Can’t Get an STI Through Oral Sex
Unfortunately, this is another commonly held myth. STIs are spread through all forms of sex, including vaginal, anal, and oral. Since these illnesses are caused by bacteria or viruses that enter the body through small cuts or tears in your skin and mucous membranes, all types of sex put you at risk of contracting one of these diseases.
Myth #5: All Birth Control Protects Against STIs
Condoms are the only form of birth control that can effectively protect against STIs, but that doesn’t stop many from believing that other forms of birth control do the same. Although some studies suggest that using an IUD may aid in prevention, the evidence doesn’t fully support the claim as of now. Even if you’re using an alternate form of birth control like the pill or a vaginal ring, also use a condom to ensure you’re protected from these nasty infections.
Myth #6: Once You’ve Been Treated, You’re Immune
Unfortunately, even if you’ve previously contracted and been treated for a particular STI in the past, it doesn’t mean you now have immunity from getting it again. STIs simply don’t work that way, so always protect yourself against them.
STIs are scary, but knowing the facts makes it easier to protect yourself from them. Be safe in your love life to stay healthy and to work against the frightening long-term health risks of many of these infections.