Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Myths and Facts

There is a lot of misinformation about sex, sexual health and sexually transmitted disease (STD). Perhaps, you have heard of the famous myth of getting an infection from a toilet seat or that the most commonly-infected group of people are the sex workers? Although some of these beliefs sound true, not all are supported by facts or are just plain myths. Of course, the only way to be 100 percent safe is by abstaining from any forms of sex (vaginal, anal or oral). However, if you are a sexually active individual, you need to be informed and know what’s true—and what’s not.

Here are some of the things that people commonly get wrong about sexually transmitted disease.

Myth: You can get herpes from a toilet seat.
Fact: Herpes is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.

The herpes simplex virus (HPV) is transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact. Unless you and your partner had sex on a toilet seat, which is very unlikely, it’s impossible to catch an infection from the toilet According to Singapore health experts, transmission of the virus from a toilet seat falls under ‘generally impossible.’ So while you’re worrying whether the toilet is wet or dry to sit on, you can leave the worries of catching HPV behind.

Myth: A Pap test can serve as an STD test.
Fact: There are specific tests for STDs.

A Pap test is a test to specifically check a woman’s vagina or cervix for any presence of cancerous cells. While some STDs can be early signs of cancer and can be detected through fast STD test in Singapore, many do not and are often overlooked in this test. Some women assume that when they undergo a Pap test, they are also tested for STDs. To be sure, talk to your healthcare provider about STD testing and see what STD test he or she recommends for you.

Myth: It’s impossible to catch an STD by getting a tattoo, since it’s not like having sex.
Fact: Blood-borne infections can transfer through needle sharing.

If your tattoo is the sticker type one, then there should be no risk for STDs. However, if it is the permanent one that entails the use of needles, then you’re at serious risk for HIV and other blood-borne infections like hepatitis B and C. To avoid any possibility of infection, make sure that the instruments used for tattooing have been sterilized and disinfected, especially the equipment used to pierce or cut the skin. Ask the staff at the tattoo parlor about their tools and precautionary measures. They should unambiguously disclose these information to you; if not, get inked somewhere else.

Myth: You can get HIV from mosquitoes.
Fact: While mosquitoes suck blood, they do not transfer blood-borne infections.

HIV and other blood-borne infections are not transmitted by mosquitoes. Singapore researches about HIV and STDs have shown no evidence about transmission of diseases from mosquitoes or any other insects—even in places where there are higher cases of STDs and large population of mosquitoes.

Myth: Only prostitutes get infected with STDs.
Fact: STDs do not discriminate.

Rich and poor people can get STDs. Athletes and mathematicians can also get infected. CEOs and ordinary employees can also catch them. Even a virgin who is having sex for the first time can get infected. The only people who are safe from STDs are those who have not had any kind of sexual contact in their lives. What can you do to stay safe? Use condom every time you’re having sex, and get screened regularly.

Myth: You will know it if your partner has STD.
Fact: Most of the time, there’s no sign that a person is infected.

Even your partner cannot detect presence of STD in his system unless he submits himself for an STD testing. STDs do not always show symptoms, and it is possible to spread the virus without experiencing an outbreak. If left untreated, infections can cause serious reproductive problems, like infertility or pelvic inflammatory disease, and may cause difficulty in getting pregnant or during the pregnancy stage.

Myth: Anal or oral sex is the way to go to avoid STDs.
Fact: As long as there’s sex (vaginal, oral, or anal), there’s risk for STDs.

The bacteria and viruses that cause STDs can infect the body by entering through microscopic cuts and tears in the genital, rectum, and mouth. Some infections, like genital warts and herpes, can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact with a sore or an infected area. Whether it is oral or anal sex, it is safer to use a dental dam or condom to avoid direct skin-to-skin contact. If you can’t handle the taste of latex, there are flavoured condoms specifically made for added pleasure during oral sex.

Myth: Once you catch an STD, you will get immune to it.
Fact: It is possible to get infected more than just once.

Viral infections, like HIV and herpes, stay in your system once you get them; while bacterial infections, like gonorrhoea and chlamydia, can be cured with antibiotics. However, it is possible to catch them again if you get in contact with an infected person. Using condoms or other barrier method will keep you safe from contracting an STD, as well as undergoing regular STD screening for early detection and better chances of cure.

Myth: As long as you’re STD-free, your partner does not need to get checked.
Fact: If your partner has had partner(s) before you, he should get checked.

Who wants to waste all their efforts from going through regular STD testing, keeping themselves as healthy as possible, and then ending up catching an infection from a partner anyway? The best you can do is to get tested together. This may not be your idea of romantic date, but nothing says ‘I care’ better than trying to protect your beloved from a potentially fatal illness.

There are more myths out there about STDs, and the ones we have stated above are just a few and the most common of them. The most important point here is to get an STD test regularly. While these illnesses may cause embarrassment for many of us, it is more important to remember that many of these infections can be life-threatening if left unattended. If detected and treated early, damages are minimized and infertility issues (or even death) can be avoided.

Importance of Health

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