Common myths about STDs

Get smart ... then get tested

Knowledge is power. It's also the key to sexual health. So get smart about sex. Check out common myths about STDs, learn the truth and get tested today.

Common STD myths
Myth: You can't get an STD from oral sex.

Busted. Whether you give or receive, you can get an STD from unprotected oral sex. Especially if you or your partner have an open sore or your gums bleed. Using a condom or dental dam can help protect you and your partner from STDs but neither is 100% effective. So get tested and get peace of mind.

Myth: If you have an STD, you'll know it.

Busted. If you're sexually active, the only way to be sure you aren't infected with an STD is to get tested. Many STDs develop slowly and have little, or no, symptoms. Some are curable, some are not. But all STDs, if left untreated, can lead to significant health problems. So don't wait until you see something weird or start feeling sick. Get yourself tested today.

Myth: If your partner has an STD, you'll know it.

Busted: Like the myth above, there's no way to know if your partner has an STD unless they get tested. They may not show any signs or symptoms. Even if they have an STD, they may not know it. Ask your partner to get tested and put both your minds at ease.

Myth: You can only catch herpes when your partner is having an outbreak.

Busted. It may surprise you, but many people who have herpes don't know it. (In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 750,000 people are infected with herpes every year!) Herpes symptoms can lie dormant for weeks before an outbreak occurs. So even if your partner looks and feels healthy, they could be infected and pass the herpes virus to you. Only an STD test that screens for herpes can tell you for sure whether you have it or not. Be smart - get tested and ask your partner to get tested too.

Myth: Only certain “types” of people get STDs.

Busted. Like all things in life, it's best not to judge a book by its cover. People from all walks of life can (and do) get infected with STDs. STDs don't care if you're straight or gay, male or female, old or young – anyone who is sexually active is at risk. With nearly 20 million new infections diagnosed across the U.S. every year, it's just smart to get tested and know the status of your own sexual health.

Myth: Having sex in a pool or hot tub is okay because chlorine will kill off STDs.

Busted: This myth is a classic, and it's completely false. Neither chlorine nor hot water will kill the bacteria and viruses that cause STDs. And while condoms can help you have safer sex, latex condoms can break down in a hot tub. So don't count on the pool for protection. Get tested and be sure you are STD-free.

Myth: If you don't have a condom, use plastic wrap.

Busted: If you don't have a condom, go get one. But do not use plastic wrap as a substitute. Most plastic wraps have tiny holes that can't protect you from an STD. If you've tried this before, please get tested – your health is too important to risk.

Myth: You can only get an STD from semen.

Busted: Some STDs, like herpes and syphilis, can be spread with skin-to-skin contact. For example, during a herpes outbreak, active sores appear. When these sores come into contact with your skin or other moist areas like your mouth or throat, the herpes virus can spread. Getting tested is the only way to be sure you haven't been exposed or contracted an STD.

Myth: The Pill prevents STDs.

Busted: The Pill does not prevent STDs. It is only designed to prevent pregnancy. If you are using the Pill because you think it provides protection against STDs, you need to get tested.

Myth: Chlamydia and gonorrhea aren't a big deal and they go away on their own.

Busted: Although chlamydia and gonorrhea are both curable, they will not go away on their own. If these infections aren't treated, they can create long-term sexual health problems for both men and women. Play it safe: get tested for these STDs. If your test results are positive, a simple prescription antibiotic will put you on the road to recovery.

Myth: Two condoms are better than one.

Busted: It seems logical but it's just not true. During sex, the condoms rub against each other. This friction can cause them to rip, tear or break. Stick with the sexual health experts on this one: doctors, nurses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and condom makers all agree that one condom equals safer sex.

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