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
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
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
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
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.