True Or False? STD Myths

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Lizette Borreli of Medical Daily composed this list in her article STD Myths Exposed: 8 Myths That May Be Ruining Your Sex Life:

Myth #1:  You can’t get an STD from oral sex.

False: Yes, you can. This myth is uttered by many teens, but it is 100 percent untrue. Unprotected oral sex — “blow jobs” or “going downtown” and whether you do it or it’s done to you, puts you at risk for an STD. The University of California, San Francisco’s, HIV InSite says if the partner is giving oral sex to a man, the risk increases if they have any cuts or scrapes in his or her mouth. These scraps may include small ones caused by brushing or flossing before sex. Giving oral sex to a woman can increase the risk of infection if there is menstrual blood, if the woman has another STD in addition to HIV, or if the person performing oral sex has sores or cuts in his or her mouth.

Myth #2: If he pulls out, the partner won’t get pregnant or an STD.

False: Better use protection. The withdrawal or “pulling out” method does not prevent HIV or other STDs. Most disease-causing microorganisms are not contingent on ejaculation for transmission. This method is less effective at preventing pregnancy compared to condoms, the Pill, or shot. According to Planned Parenthood, the pull out method is much more effective when done correctly. Their latest statistics reveal, out of every 100 women whose partners use withdrawal, four will still become pregnant each year if they always do it correctly.

Myth #3: If you use birth control, you do not need to worry about STDs.

False: Take the pill. Birth control methods such as the pill are very effective at preventing pregnancy, but they do not protect against STDs. Condoms are the only method of protection against both STDs and pregnancy, says the Food and Drug Administration. Using a condom and also a birth control method like the pill will provide maximum protection for both partners.

Myth #4: Sex in a pool or hot tub, or douching after sex will prevent STDs, including HIV, and/or pregnancy.

False: You’re still at risk. This classic urban legend has gained popularity under the belief that chlorine is a disinfectant that kills STD-causing bacteria or viruses. Chlorine is not a condom, and it will not kill sperm. If partners desire to have sex in a pool or hot tub, take extra precaution because latex condoms can easily break down in hot water temperatures, says Teen Clinic.

Myth #5: You can only get herpes when your partner has an outbreak that can be seen.

False: Oh so false. Most people have no or few symptoms from a herpes infection. The majority of people with herpes are not aware that they have it, but symptoms such as itching or a burning feeling in the genital or anal area, swollen glands, or vaginal discharge, can last from two to three weeks. They commonly cause infections of the mouth and lips, also known as “fever blisters.”

Myth #6: You can only get an STD from semen.

False: Think again. Although semen and blood can spread STDs, some like herpes and syphilis can be transmitted by skin on skin contact. If a partner has herpes and experiences visible “fever blisters,” the sore can spread when it comes into contact with someone’s skin in areas like the mouth, throat, and cuts or rashes. A partner may become infected even before blisters begin to form.

Myth #7: Lesbians do not need to have safe sex.

False: Everyone does. Women who [only] have sex with other women [who only have sex with other women] may rarely get HIV, but the risk increases if a woman has sex with an HIV-positive woman, or injects drugs or has sex with a man who has HIV. According to Womanshealth, this could happen because soft tissues, like those in the mouth, can come into contact with the vaginal fluid or menstrual blood of the woman infected with HIV. Women can spread a number of STDs to one another during oral sex, manual sex, or frottage.

Myth #8: You are over 50 and believe STDs aren’t an issue.

False: Always be safe. Before the AIDS era, many people did not associate sex as an activity that needed protection. This belief contributes to the reasoning behind why older individuals have rising HIV rates, according to the National Institute on Aging. Older women may be at an increased risk for cervical cancer because they could have been infected with human papillomavirus (HPV) for a while, and they might’ve stopped getting screened.

We thought she was off to a great start and had a few more myths we wanted to contribute:

Myth #9: If you wear condoms you won’t get any STDs.

False: You are still at risk. Condoms do a great job of protecting against STDs that are transmitted via body fluids – like HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea – but condoms do not protect well against STDs that are transmitted via skin-to-skin contact – like genital herpes or syphilis.

Myth #10: Nice people don’t get STDs.

False: Everyone can get an STD. Nice people, assholes, loyal people, cheaters, smart people, stupid people, clean people, and dirty people get STDs. 19 million new infections are diagnosed every year. This is definitely an area where you can’t “judge a book by its cover.”

Myth #11: Lubricant can increase the chances of getting an STD.

True: Certain lubes damage skin tissue, increasing the chances of getting an STD up to 7x. The best lubes are the ones that have an osmolality close to the vagina’s, like Aloe Cadabra. Read more about lubes in our lube guide.

Myth #12: Some STDs are becoming antibiotic-resistant.

True: Chlamydia and gonorrhea are becoming antibiotic-resistant. The World Health Organization has issued a worldwide warning against a new strain of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea (read more about that here), and new research has just emerged suggesting chlamydia can live inside a person’s gut, and even if they are treated, can reinfect them at a later time.

Myth #13: 2 condoms are better than one.

False: The extra friction can break the condoms. And it probably wouldn’t feel that good anyways.

Myth #14: You can catch an STD from a toilet seat.

99.9% false: STDs cannot live outside the body for very long – especially on a cold hard toilet seat. For an infection to occur, the germs would have to be transferred from the toilet seat to your urethral or genital tract, or through a cut or sore on the buttocks or thighs, which isn’t impossible but extremely unlikely.

If you have any concerns, the best thing to do is get tested. Even if you don’t see anything that looks like an STD on your partner’s genitals or your own, you or they may still have one. The only way to know is to get tested and know what you’re getting tested for. Learn how to talk about STDs with your partner here.

– Keeley & Nikita