There are so many misconceptions about sexual health out there that it can be hard to separate myths from facts. Were you ever told you could definitely catch an STD by using a public toilet seat? Did you hear that only gay men can get HIV? How about the rumour that if you’ve caught Chlamydia then you obviously slept around? Whatever the reason behind it, age, prejudice, or just repeating what you were taught…Here is the truth about some of the things you may have heard before. (All statements above are myths by the way!)
1) Myth – As long as you wear a condom during sex you can’t catch anything. Fact – This is not true because you can catch genital herpes by skin to skin contact with anyone that has or is getting a cold sore. This includes oral sex. Avoid this by not having oral when you have any blisters, itchy spots or tingling around your mouth.
2) Myth – I can’t have an STD I would know. Fact – You can have caught something with no symptoms whatsoever and passed it on for ages before you found out. If you are sexually active then you should get regular checks just in case because not all STD’s have symptoms especially if you are a guy and you are carrying it to pass onto women who then have symptoms.
3) Myth – You can’t catch anything from anal sex. Fact – The skin around your anus is some of the most sensitive and prone to tearing, skin your body has and is a hotspot of risk for transmitting STD’s. Use condoms and plenty of lube to help prevent any damage and reduce the risk of spreading.
4) Myth – If you caught something off of your long term partner then they cheated. Fact – Some diseases and infections can have a seriously long incubation time before showing symptoms and some never show any at all but can still be spread. Unless both of you had a check before starting a sexual relationship which was negative then there is no way to know you didn’t come into the relationship with something.
5) Myth – If I get an STI it can just be cured. Fact – Whilst most STI’s can be cured, there are some which will affect you for life, such as, Genital Herpes (HSV), Genital Warts (HPV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). They can be treated but never cured.
6) Myth – One STI test checks for everything. Fact – When you get tested they check for the common bacterial STI’s. Unless specifically asked to by you, or you have symptoms, HPV, HIV and Herpes are not tested for as they are caused by viruses and not bacteria.
7) Myth – I can’t have anything I’ve only had sex once. Fact – You can catch an STI on your first sexual experience or your 1 millionth. If you have 1 partner or 100. To help stay healthy, test often, use protection and do not sleep with anyone if you could have something. Learn to recognise the signs and be safe.