STD – Top 12 Common Misunderstandings
THE ABC OF STD
The old saying is true, "knowledge is power". And understanding more about STDs will help you to be aware of the risk you may have.
FACT: If you are sexually promiscuous, the chances of a std (sexually transmitted disease) or sti (sexually transmitted infection) increase with every sexual escapade and every sexual partner. The difference between the two terms is miniscule — all STD's start out as STI's.
Misunderstanding #1: "You can not get an STD from oral sex".
Unfortunately, FALSE. For many years, it was incorrectly reported that the only way to get an infection from oral sex was to be performing it on a man. Many doctors (mine included), didn't consider the symptoms as an std if the patient identified as not gay.
It is true that most STD's don't like the environment found in the mouth, but it doesn't mean you are safe. In the past 10 years, there have been more cases documented of MEN getting Gonorrhea from performing cunninglingus on females.
You increase your risk by having open sores in your mouth (from biting your lip, or burning your tongue on pizza). Your risk also increases if you brush your teeth before performing oral sex because the brushes can causes irritation or bleeding of your gums. If you are worried about your breath, GARGLE, don't brush.
Misunderstanding #2: "Once you have had a STD infection, you can't catch it again."
Unfortunately, VERY FALSE. Your body does NOT build a resistance to gonorrhea, Chlamydia, etc., so getting it one time does not protect you. In fact, the truth is the opposite — once you have had a std once, you are much more likely to catch the same one again at a later time. In other words, you weakness doesn't build up — it decreases. In cases like Herpes, once you have herpes, it is with you for life. HPV (Human papillomavirus) is another lifetime virus — and just like herpes, can remain dormant for years before being visible.
HPV: Most people with HPV do not know they are infected and never develop symptoms or health problems from it. Some people find out they have HPV when they get genital warts. Women may find out they have HPV when they get an abnormal Pap [smear] test result
Misunderstanding #3: "If you have an STD, you will know it. If your partner has an STD, both of you will know it."
FALSE. The last example of HPV is a perfect example. Other infections might stay with you for many years and you wouldn't' know it. Many people are asymptomatic meaning that they can have an STD and not have any symptoms at all. According to reports on the internet, "75% of females and 50% of males exhibit no symptoms" of Chlamydia for example. But even with no symptoms, it can be passed over and over.
And if Chlamydia is passed to another person who is asymptomatic, they begin to pass the infection without knowing. It is a very difficult situation to find yourself in.
Herpes is another example of a deadly fighter. If a person has Herpes, and does not take prophylactic medication to control it, it is possible to be contagious even when NO sores are visible.
Misunderstanding #4: "You can only catch Herpes when your partner is having an outbreak."
FALSE. I'm discussing Herpes again because I want to shatter another common myth: "Cold sores are not Herpes". FALSE. If you suffer from cold sores, you are infected with Herpes Simplex 1 (HSV-1). ORAL HERPES. Most infections of ORAL Herpes occurs during childhood and stays with you for life.
A person infected with HSV-1 ("cold sores") that performs oral sex on a partner, can pass the herpes virus on to the partner as GENITAL HERPES (HSV-2). The person with HSV-2 will eventually have blisters around the genitals (similar to what cold sores of the mouth look like).
The World Heath Organization reports that a person can be infected with HSV-1 and HSV-2 at the same time. However, I have always read reports that contradict that and state that once you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2, you will generally not be infected with the other.
In other words, if you have ORAL HERPES ("cold sores") and perform oral sex on a partner, they can get GENITAL HERPES.
If a person with HSV-1 ("cold sores") has sexual contact with a person infected with GENITAL HERPES, there is very little chance of additional infection.
And finally, persons who have either herpes virus AND take prophylactic medicine to control the outbreaks will most likely not have outbreaks and due to the medicine, and generally will not be contagious.
Misunderstanding #5: "Only people with multiple sex partners get STD's."
FALSE. It is not that easy to blame it on multiple sex partners. Oral herpes is a good example of an infection that does not need to pass through sexual activities. Even with limited partners, a STD can rear its head years later.
STD's are not limited to "those kind of people", as has been incorrectly reported on the web. STD's are an equal opportunity offender — gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, male, female, transgender, old, or young.
Misunderstanding #6: "The birth control pill prevents STD's."
FALSE. The birth control pill prevents pregnancy. It has NO effect at all upon infections of any kind.
Misunderstanding #7: "A condom prevents all STD's."
FALSE. I have already explained how STD's can pass through oral sex. And herpes passes through skin-to-skin contact, not necessarily intercourse or oral sex. And there are MANY documented cases now of Gonorrhea passing through oral sex to men and women.
Misunderstanding #8: "An STD will go away on its own."
FALSE. Many STD's are curable – but they will not go away on their own.
Misunderstanding #9: "All STD infections are the same regardless of where in the world you caught them."
FALSE. The particular strain of an STD infection that you have may or may not respond to the medicine your doctor has prescribed. Your doctor would need to know if you traveled outside of the USA in order to prescribe the correct medicine. Otherwise, you might take a week's worth of medicine only to find out that your infection did not go away because it was treated with the wrong medication.
Misunderstanding #10: "Only older people having lots of sex and partners get STD infections."
FALSE. Young people are MORE susceptible to being infected, because their partners are not likely to discuss their sexual history with healthcare providers, meaning their STD status won't get diagnosed, and they would continue to spread the infection around. The World Health Organization (WHO) also states that young women’s bodies are biologically more susceptible to STDs.
Misunderstanding #11: "If I had sex in a hot tub, or pool, the chlorine will protect me from getting a STD."
FALSE. The only thing chlorine might do is to degrade or break down the condom, making it worthless as protection for STD's and pregnancy. It doesn't matter where or how you have sex, there is no magic wand to prevent yourself from getting infected with a std.
Misunderstanding #12: "I can't get an STD or HIV if I only sleep with virgins."
FALSE. Technically, a "virgin" is a person who has not experienced penetrative sexual intercourse. But it does not say anything about their oral sex, or anal sex activities. Just kissing and fondling opens you up to the possibility of an std.
Although I hate the word "Frottage", I should include it here. Frottage is defined as "dry humping, or any other no-penetration body grinding done with or without clothes in public or in private". Dry humping with clothes on is considered safe because there is no skin-to-skin. But if other factors are added, such as one partner slipping their hands into the underwear of the other, skin-to-skin contact occurs, and both are at risk.
FROM THE EDITOR: Hi, my name is Christianne, and I was supposed to begin writing and answering sex questions for LoveWorks Magazine in the middle of last year. Writing is a hobby, and is one way I like to relax.
However, I have a very-good full-time job that pays my bills and takes care of my family and is exceptionally rewarding! And unfortunately, my bosses have kept me very busy. I hope to find the time now to write on a regular basis. If you have any sexual questions you would like answered, send them to me!