The amount of false information out there, especially on the internet, is astounding and leads to the transmission of STIs and unintended pregnancies. In this article, we’re going to be focusing on STI myth-busting.
You can’t get an STI if you use a condom
You can. Condoms, if used correctly, decrease the risk of getting an STI significantly, but there are certain STIs that you can contract even if you use a condom such as pubic lice (crabs). So, it’s very important for you and your partner to have a full STI screening.
Another pertinent contributor to transmission of STIs is that many men and women don’t know how to use condoms properly, e.g. putting the condom incorrectly; not removing air from the tip and taking it off too soon are just three of many mistakes that are made regularly. For more insight, please read our article about common condom mistakes.
You’re in the clear if you stick to oral sex
Sorry, you couldn’t be more wrong. STIs are transmitted by the exchange of bodily fluids or skin that is already infected with an STI, e.g. oral herpes. It’s also possible to contract HIV from oral sex. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is present in your bloodstream, vaginal fluids, semen and pre-seminal fluid. All it takes is for one of these fluids to get into contact with a tiny wound in your mouth.
Other STIs that can be transmitted through oral sex include chlamydia, genital warts and even Hepatitis B and C. It’s recommended that you use male and female condoms to protect you and your partner.
You only need to get tested for STIs once in your life
Wrong again. If you are sexually active, you should be tested regularly, especially if you have partners who don’t know their STI status; it’s even more critical if you have multiple partners. If you’re in a committed relationship, it’s recommended that you and your partner get tested together.
You can’t get an STI if your partner is a virgin
What do you or your partner consider ‘being a virgin’ to be? Let’s break this one down a bit further.
- STIs such as HPV and herpes can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact; vaginal or oral sex doesn’t have to take place. Also, HPV usually doesn’t present with symptoms, so it’s possible to have HPV without knowing.
- As mentioned above, if you’ve had oral sex, you’ve had sex! You may not have had vaginal sex, but the same process has taken place: bodily fluids in which STIs are found, have been exchanged, putting you at risk from getting an STI. Instead, practice safe sex to minimise the probability of transmission of an STI.
Your period protects you from STIs
Sorry, but keeping condoms in the drawer during this time won’t protect you from STIs and even pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, ‘sperm can survive inside your body for up to five days, so if you have a shorter cycle and have unprotected sex towards the end of your flow, it could stick around until you ovulate.’
So, please make sure that you practice safe sex at ALL times.
How Marie Stopes can help you
Marie Stopes is the global leader in women’s sexual and reproductive health. All clinics across South Africa provide HIV and STI testing. Make an appointment at your nearest centre, and a medical professional will answer any questions you may have. We’ll ensure that STI myth-busting is always part of what we do.