No one wants to tackle STDs or STIs, or divulge information about their personal experiences with them. From sex education in middle school to sex in between the sheets, dishing on chlamydia, herpes and their counterparts makes all involved a bit squirmy.
Still, it’s essential to know the truth about STDs and STIs and stop believing the hype of old wives’ tales. Luckily, sexologist Dr. Emily Morse is here to bust some common myths:
MYTH #1: Sex in a hot tub will keep me safe!
FACT: “A jacuzzi isn’t a ‘get out of condoms free’ card,” Dr. Morse said. What's worse: Not only can you contract an STD, but also a bacterial infection from the germs floating around in the hot tub. “Sorry to say, chlorine doesn’t kill everything, including bacteria, STDs/STIs, and sperm,” she continued.
MYTH #2: Diaphragms and female condoms will protect me from STDs.
FACT: Female condoms might be progressive but male condoms are the only method of contraception that are up to 99 percent effective in protecting against STDs and STIs. Hate condoms? Dr. Morse has a solution: if “the latex is irritating to your sensitive vagina, or you have an allergy, try Lifestyles SKYN polyisoprene condoms. They are non-latex and have a super-realistic feel that will make it seem like you’re not using a condom at all.”
MYTH #3: If I don’t have an outbreak, I don’t have to tell my partner I have herpes.
FACT: This myth was once supported by doctors. Medicine, however, has advanced and doctors now encourage patients to be open with their partner about the herpes virus, whether it is dormant or as active as a cat in heat. “A number of studies now prove that people are still spreading the herpes virus after the sores clear up so they can still transmit it to their partner,” Dr. Morse explained. “You must always inform your partner not only if you’ve had an outbreak but if you have herpes.”
MYTH #4: Two condoms are better than one!
FACT: First of all, ouch! That has to be uncomfortable. Secondly, one condom is enough and should get the job done. “When people using condoms get infected with an STD, it’s because they were not using the condom correctly or they didn’t use it the entire time they were having intercourse,” Dr. Emily noted. Plus, “wearing two condoms is risky because the friction caused by rubbing against each other can cause breakage or leakage — both undesirable outcomes that could lead to an STD.” See? No need to wrap it up twice. Make sure to use latex or polyurethane instead of natural skin condoms, which viruses can get through.
MYTH #5: He doesn’t look like he has an STD.
FACT: Just because that hot stud looks healthy doesn’t mean he’s STD free. In fact, most STDs don’t show any symptoms at all. Thing is “1 in 2 sexually active people will be infected with an STD by the age of 25,” Dr. Emily shared, “and they won’t even know it.” Those are scary numbers, which is why it’s so important to get tested, especially for chlamydia as it can lead to infertility if undetected. Schedule an appointment with your gynecologist, go to Planned Parenthood or a free clinic in your area. Another option is MyLabBox, an at-home STD test you can order online.
MYTH #6: If a guy pulls out, I won’t get an STD.
FACT: As much as we want to believe it, withdrawal (or pulling out) does not prevent against HIV or other STDs. Really. Enough said!
MYTH #7: When I’m on the pill, I don’t need to worry about STDs.
FACT: Whether you’re on the pill, the patch, Depo or an IUD, birth control methods do not protect you from the array of STDs or STIs that exit. Not HIV, herpes, chlamydia or gonorrhea! “Condoms are the only method of protection against both STDs and pregnancy,” Dr. Morse reaffirmed. So, stock up, and make sure he wraps it up — once.