What do you know about sexually transmitted disease, aka STDs? If you've never contracted one, then you have either had only one partner, or you have been smart enough to use protection, or you've just been lucky so far!
Here, then, are 5 myths about STDs that just might help you prevent getting one yourself.
Myth # 1: You can tell if someone has an STD by looking.
This myth is almost laughable. Any idea what the symptoms of human papilloma virus (HPV) are in a man? I'd guess probably not, because many men who get HPV from a partner don't have any symptoms at all. Yet the consequences can be quite serious, as HPV puts a woman at high risk for cervical cancer. The same can be said of chlamydia, which can lead to infertility if untreated.
Never assume that the absence of sores or a rash means that a partner who hasn't been tested is free of STDs. Always use protection, because what you can't see can hurt you.
Myth # 2: If you know your partner, you won't get an STD.
I've had grown adults who are sexually active with multiple partners tell me flat out, "Oh, I don't need to worry about protection, I know my partners are clean." How? Clearly they are under the spell of the first myth, above.
When you're sexually active with multiple partners, why would you assume that your partners are only sexually active with you? This is a fool's game. Either get tested and stick to one partner, or use condoms.
Myth # 3: Herpes can only be passed when someone has an active outbreak.
False. Many people have no idea that they've been infected with herpes because it can take several weeks for evidence of an outbreak and so they can spread the disease to other partners without either one suspecting a thing. Even couples in long term relationships should use protection if they want to ensure that the virus isn't passed along.
Myth # 4: STDs are passed in semen.
STDs are generally passed by skin to skin contact, like syphilis, gonorrhea, and herpes. Thus, people can pass STDs through oral sex, even if one partner does ejaculate into the other partner's mouth.
Myth # 5: STDs happen to somebody else.
Truth: STDs happen to all kinds of people, from all walks of life, and at every age. It is a fact that the largest growing population of people with AIDS in the US are senior citizens, who are sometimes naïve about the dangers of unprotected sex. Then, too, an unsuspecting spouse can contract an STD if a partner has unprotected sex with an affair partner or escort.
Whoever you are, whatever your age, if you suspect that you have an STD, get tested. If you know you are disease free, stay that way by using protection and asking new partners to get tested. Consider limiting your partners, too, so that you have less of a chance of becoming ill.
Want to know what STDs look like? Check out the slide show on WebMD that prompted this article: