Myths About Sexually Transmitted Infections
Treatments are so effective that you don’t need to worry about STIs
Some viruses like genital herpes and HIV can be treated but they remain in the body. Herpes can reappear years later, often reactivated by stress. 10 years into a monogamous relationship, add a bit of anxiety and pressures at work and boom, it’s back. And that’s not an easy thing to explain to your partner.
“Sorry! Before we met, I had sex with someone else, we didn’t use a condom for like about 5 minutes and then I got herpes. I didn’t tell you because when we met it had gone.”
So a) whilst STI treatments are effective, prevention is better than cure, so always use a condom and if you can, get tested before you start a new sexual relationship and b) there’s some evidence that certain STIs, such as gonorrhoea, are becoming resistant to antibiotics.
Only people with a lot of sexual partners get STIs
The nice thing about STIs is they never judge or slut shame. To them your sexual history is just that: it’s your business and it’s in the past. However the bad thing about STIs is that you can get one whether you’ve had sex with one person or 100. They’re passed on through unprotected, i.e. without a condom, vaginal, anal or oral sex or through genital contact and by sharing sex toys. STIs aren’t ageist either. It’s not just something that affect young people – diagnoses of people over 45 are on the rise.
I can’t get infected if he pulls out before he comes
Unfortunately you can. Pre-cum – small drops of fluid that the penis discharges when aroused - can contain HIV, other STIs or even sperm (so you can get pregnant too). The answer is simple: always use a condom as soon as his penis is erect.
The birth control pill I use will protect me from STIs
Wrong again. Condoms are the only birth control method that offers dual protection against pregnancy and STIs. The pill, hormonal injections and implants, diaphragms, and the IUD do not protect against STIs.
I’m not at risk because oral sex is as far as we go
Not having anal or vaginal sex does reduce the risk of getting an STI, but here’s the kicker - infections can be spread by oral sex and by skin-on-skin contact. You can contract HPV, for example, if your partner is infected and you rub your genitals together. Herpes is transmitted by genital or oral contact with an existing sore or one that only just developing (and by “developing” we mean that you might not even be able to see it) and even worse, the virus can be spread without either of you showing any symptoms.
Any foreign object – fingers, sex toys, fruit or anything else that you choose to insert into your body can carry unwanted bacteria. Cleanliness is just good manners – wash your hands, your sex toys and your fruit first!
Only gay men and drug users get HIV
It’s true that gay men are disproportionately affected by HIV but it is estimated that of the 100,000 or so people living with HIV in the UK, around one-third are women and about half of these cases were transmitted through heterosexual sex. Not only that but a recent survey has revealed that more than 18,000 people in the UK have HIV but don't know they have it.
Lesbians don’t get STIs
It’s true that the risk of getting an STI is lower for women who only have sex with other women. However some STIs can be transmitted between women by genital-to-genital or oral-to-genital contact. Basically anything that involves the exchange of vaginal fluids or the sharing of sex toys can give you an STI.
Showering before, after and even whilst having sex, prevents the spread of infections
Cleanliness is next to Godliness but it won’t stop a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Washing your bits, bum and everything in between before and after sex is good hygiene and will almost certainly make you feel more body confident but you can’t wash away an STI.
Washing your vagina can help reduce urinary tract infections but be sure to use one that helps rebalance your body’s natural PH and isn’t too highly fragranced. Some regular shower gels or soaps can irritate or dry out delicate skin, particularly if you’ve just shaved or if you’re aroused.
Our WooWoo Micellar Intimate Wash has been formulated with your vagina in mind. Well, not just yours – every vagina. It’s made from naturally sourced ingredients, including soothing aloe vera and is pH-balanced too. Read more about this product here.
If you your partner have an STI, you'll see it
Unfortunately even doctors can't always tell by the naked eye, if you have an STI. Sometimes you’ll need a blood test to find out.
STIs don’t always result in obvious symptoms – it’s possible to have one and spread it, even if you feel completely healthy. Not only that but untreated STIs can lead to more serious health problems, like infertility or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
If you are in any doubt ask your GP or sexual health clinic for advice on testing for STIs, always use a condom and also talk openly and honestly with your sexual partner about your sexual history – if you’ve had an STI in the past, tell them. It’s quite common to have had an STI, mostly because it’s still too uncommon for people to talk openly about them or to get tested regularly.
I have an STI and we’ve already had sex, so there’s no point using protection
Practising safe sex is still really important. For one thing your partner may not yet be infected and even if you share an STI, you could have different types or strains of the same infection that could make the infection worse for both of you. Worse, your partner could unknowingly have a different STI, which could speed up the progression of your current infection. You and your partner can pass an infection back and forth if you’re not both treated.