5 STI Myths That Most Of Us Believe (Even Though They’re Totally Untrue)
Time to wise up (and wrap up...)
Every year, there are more than 357 million new infections with the four most prevalent STIs – chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and trichomoniasis.
That’s a lot of people, considering sexual health is something that’s still rarely talked about. You might chat about period pain with your work colleagues, but would you ask them about that weird smelling discharge you’ve been getting? Probably not.
Most of us Irish ladies have a general knowledge of what sexual health means and what an STI is, but there are some things we are grossly misinformed about.
Behold, five common STI myths that are – to put it simply – totally untrue.
1. ‘We used a condom, so there’s no chance of STIs’
Aside from the very obvious fact that condoms break, there are also some STIs that can be contracted through particular skin-t0-skin contact, like genital herpes. In general, condoms are estimated to be around 97% effective against STIs if used consistently. The takeaway? Be sure to get checked if you’ve had sex with someone new, or are planning to.
2. ‘It was only oral sex, not real sex’
Vaginal and anal intercourse might be the primary sources of STIs, but oral sex is up there on the list too. Many STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis, can be spread through oral sex, so regular testing is key if you’re sexually active.
3. ‘Lube is only for pleasure’
Yes, that Ultra Tingly Pleasure Gel might be fun to use, but it’s amping up your safety rating too. Why? Lube reduces friction, which lowers the risk of condom breakage. Be sure to use a water-based lube though, as oil-based ones can render condoms ineffective. During unprotected sex, lube can help reduce the risk of tiny cuts and tears on the vagina or anus, which is definitely not an STI barrier but is still a risk-reducer.
4. ‘Oh, I’d know if I contracted anything’
Nope. You can harbour an STI like chlamydia for years without any obvious symptoms – no pain, no weird discharge, nothing. The only way you can truly be sure that you’re in the clear? Get yourself checked.
5. ‘I’m in a long-term relationship, there’s no point in getting checked’
According to a 2015 study, people in monogamous relationships are no less likely to contract an STI than those in open relationships. That’s because those in open relationships tended to practice safer sex on the whole and – here’s the important bit – they were more honest with their partner about their sexual history and sexual activity.
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