Sexually Transmitted Infections: Myths and Facts
There is a lot of information and misinformation out there about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sex, and sexual health in general. Oftentimes, we will hear certain facts, yet remain unsure as to whether they are true or false. However, STI (or STD) still get passed around, and in order to ensure that you take all measures to prevent contact with such infections as Chlamydia, herpes, or HIV, you should be aware of the real facts about them.
- A person cannot get herpes from a toilet seat.
Herpes simplex virus is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. Hence, if an individual does not make contact with another person on a toilet seat, the seat can hardly become a source of infection. Researchers say that infection from a toilet seat can be classified as “generally impossible.” Therefore, a person should take traditional precautions before sitting that include making sure that the seat is dry and clean. After that, there is simply no risk of getting herpes this way.
- A person can get HIV by getting a tattoo or body piercing.
The instruments used for tattooing or piercing come in contact with your blood. Therefore, there is a risk of get STIs transmitted through blood (including HIV and hepatitis B or C) if the instruments are not properly disinfected or sterilized. All instruments that are used to cut or pierce the skin should be used only once. The parlor staff should provide a client with thorough information about their equipment and the precautions they take. If their disinfection methods are not satisfactory, you should avoid any procedures at this place.
- A Pap test does not check for STIs.
Pap test is not specific for any sexually transmitted infection or disease. Some women assume they are being tested for STI while having a Pap test. However, this is incorrect. It is recommended to consult your healthcare provider regarding STI testing and ask them if you have a need for any specific tests.
- A person cannot get HIV from a mosquito bite.
HIV is not spread by mosquitoes. There are numerous studies conducted by authoritative institutions such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that have demonstrated no proof of HIV transmission via mosquitoes. Moreover, there is no evidence that the virus can spread through any other insects, even in the regions where the cases of AIDS are numerous and the populations of mosquitoes are large.
- A person can get STI through oral sex.
When engaging in oral sex, a person can transmit an STI to his or her partner and become infected himself. Not all STIs can be transmitted this way, but some undoubtedly can. For example, if a person who performs an oral sex on you has oral herpes, you can get infected with this disease in your genital area.
- Baby oil and Vaseline should not be used with latex condoms.
Oil-based lubricants, including baby oil, hand creams, Vaseline, and Crisco can deteriorate latex and allow STIs to pass through. However, there are water-soluble lubricants, such as Aqualube, Glide, K-Y Jelly, and most contraceptive jellies, that are good to use with condoms.
- A condom cannot be used more than once.
A used condom should be thrown away and never used again under any circumstances.
Sex and sexuality
- Most women don't reach an orgasm through vaginal sex only.
The percentage of women who can reach orgasm only through vaginal sex is about 30%. The rest of the women need more stimulation (manual or oral) to achieve orgasms.
- The average size of a penis is from 5 to 6 inches.
According to the data provided by Kinsey Institute, the average penis length in an erect state is about 5 to 6 inches, and average flaccid or soft penis length stays between 1 and 4 inches.
- Anal sex is practiced not only by gay men.
Anal sex is a kind of sexual intercourse that can be enjoyed by many people, including men and women. This activity is not exclusive to any sexual orientation.
Myths and Their Dispelling
Myth: Only people belonging to the underclass can get STIs
Fact: STIs don't discriminate
All people can have the same risk of getting STI: rich people, poor people, athletes, actors, scholars, and CEOs. Even if an individual is having his first sex, he or she can get an STI. The only person that is not exposed to the risk of getting an STI is a person who hasn’t had sex or any other kind of sexual contact.
To reduce or prevent the risk of getting an STI, a person should always use condoms during sex. Even if a person already uses another kind of birth control, he or she should still use a condom. Condoms have proven to be the only type of birth control that reduces the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection.
Myth: If your partner has an STI, you will see it
Fact: STIs rarely display any obvious signs
Even a doctor may not be capable of recognizing an STI by simply looking at a person. There are tests like blood work that need to be done to identify an infection. Furthermore, people who have STIs may not know about their disease, as these infections don’t always cause symptoms. Still, they can carry the virus and spread it without any sort of visual outbreak. If STIs are not treated, they can cause serious health problems such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.
The reliable way of prevent infection for both partners is to pass the related tests before having sex.
Myth: A person can avoid STIs by having oral or anal sex
Fact: All kinds of sex, including vaginal, oral, anal sex, or just sexual contact, can potentially transmit STIs
The bacteria or viruses causing STIs can enter the human body even through tiny cuts in the mouth, anus, or genitals. These tears are so small that a person does not notice them, but they are almost always there. Such STIs as herpes or genital warts can also spread just through direct skin to skin contact.
To protect yourself during oral or anal sex, you should use a condom or a dental dam. There are also flavored condoms developed specifically for oral sex.
Myth: A person that has had an STI cannot get infected with it again
Fact: Some STIs can be experienced more than just once
There are STIs that remain in the human body for a lifetime, like HIV or herpes. Others, like gonorrhea and Chlamydia can be treated. However, even after a successful recovery, a person may get infected again after unprotected sexual contact with an individual who has these diseases.
The best preventative measure is using a condom. Additionally, you should regularly get tested, and remember that if you are diagnosed with an STI, both you and your partner should undergo treatment. It is a reliable way to help your partner avoid future problems and prevent the risk of getting reinfected.
Myth: If your test shows that you are STI free, your partner needs not be checked
Fact: Your partner may have an STI without knowing it
As it was mentioned above, some STIs may manifest themselves without any symptoms. The safe decision is to get tested together with your partner.
There are numerous myths about sex and STIs. This article describes only part of them. However, there are some essential truths a person should always remember:
- There is only one absolutely reliable way of avoiding STIs and pregnancy, and it is not to have sex at all.
- If you do have sex, you should use a condom every time.
- If you are sexually active, you should get tested for STIs regularly.