10 Sexual Health Myths Truths and Scares
For only a three-letter word, sex sure conjures up a whole lot of emotions. Whether it gets you hot under the hood or makes you as squeamish as a middle-schooler it’s a part of life that most of us will encounter. The way I see it is if you’re mature enough to be having sex you should definitely be mature enough to talk about it, however some would call this an unpopular opinion. Even if you can’t look me in the eyes and comfortably discuss your sex life, everyone should know how let their freak flag fly while staying as protected as possible. For the next time you find yourself playing “hide-the-salami” here are some sexual health myths debunked.
1) Myth: Condoms will protect against all sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s)
Here is the most popular of sexual health myths. If you are having sex you should be using condoms, period. Unless you and your partner are both 100% monogamous (make sure you believe them), using a reliable form of birth control and have had full panel STD tests done, condoms are a must. They are the only contraceptive tool that both protect you from pregnancy and illness alike. However, it is important to know viruses such as HPV (Human papillomavirus) and herpes are passed through skin-to-skin touching as well as sharing drinks.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that while a male condom may cover a lot, the family jewels are left un-caged which means bacteria can still be spread to the partner if one isn’t mindful of their “personal space”. If feeling adventurous, it may be a good idea to look into female condoms. There is definitely a learning curve, but they cover a lot more surface area. This is a well known sexual health myth!
2) Myth: Doubling up means double the protection
Second on the list of sexual health myths is that doubling up means double the protection. Whether using male condoms, female condoms or thinking about using both, it is important to know that doubling up only increases the spark. No, not that spark. It most literally increases the friction that the love glove is going to have to endure. This can lead to an increased risk of breakage putting you and your partner in the position to pick up some unwanted visitors.
3) Myth: If you have no itching, burning, pain or swelling, you don’t have a sexually transmitted infection
This is one of those common sexual health myths I’m sure you’ve all heard about. Though it may just seem like the beginning to a scary story, it is important to know that the most common symptom of STD’s are to be asymptomatic, which means to show no symptoms at all. This is why doctors and other health professionals advise non-monogamous individuals to get tested a couple of times a year, depending on the risk level you encounter in your life-style. For example, if you are a going out, getting obliterated every Saturday night and raw dogging it on the regular, you should consider being tested every couple of months.
If you are someone who is trying to find Mr./Mrs. Right, it’s just taking a while, but you do your best to use condoms in the mean time, you should aim to get tested about twice a year. Also, it is important to consider venereal diseases can take any where from a couple of days to a couple of months to present themselves. You should usually wait about 2 weeks until after the night in question to get tested. Otherwise, it is possible you may have an incorrect negative. If you are wondering if you should get tested, Planned Parenthood provides an online quiz that will help you decide here.
4) Myth: STD’s are uncommon
Unfortunately, like most enjoyable adult things, having sex comes with risk and responsibility. According to the American Sexual Health Association, 1 in 2 people will find themselves afflicted with a sexually transmitted infection by the age of 25. While communicable diseases are being passed out like unwanted Christmas cards, it is so important to not only use condoms every time but to also get tested on a regular basis. Believe it or not, knowing these sexual health myths will help you out; bare with me.
5) Myth: Birth control protects you from diseases
I would love to tell you that you can take a pill that will prevent you from getting pregnant and also protects your health, but I would be lying. Just like you protect yourself from the flu, you have to be proactive about your sexual wellness. If you are not in a monogamous relationship, wrap it up! The pill has above a 90% efficacy when used without error; however how many of us need that extra hour of sleep when recovering from a long Friday night?
In other words, unless you take your birth control pill at the exact same time every day of your life, I wouldn’t count on that being Plan A for contraception. Aside from my desperate pleas begging you to use condoms, the short answer is that no birth control has any effect when protecting your body from STD’s. This is clearly one of those sexual health myths to know ASAP.
6) Myth: You can flip your rubber right side up
So you’re fired up, ready to go, you slam that baby on, you roll it down and… its backwards. Whether it was your last jimmy cap or the first in your loaded stash, DO NOT FLIP IT OVER! So what do you do? Throw it out and get a fresh one. If you use a contaminated condom, it defeats the purpose as now any bacteria now resides on both sides of the latex and can infect your partner.
A great way to check to see if your “trash bag” is right side up is to put it over your two thumbs and roll it down with the index fingers. If it won’t roll down, it will resemble a beanie hat. Beanies are for “Netflix and chilling” which (believe it or not guys) does not mean you’re going to get it in. If it rolls down, you will get a sombrero, so feel free to continue the fiesta in the bedroom.
7) Myth: IUD’s are the devil
In the world of health educators, intrauterine devices (IUD) are hailed as the model for efficient and convenient contraceptive methods. This refers to a small plastic T-shaped rod that is inserted into the uterus. There are both hormonal and non-hormonal options, which is great for women who don’t want to deal with the ridiculous drama that comes with non-localized estrogen. Oh, and did I mention they are over 99% effective? Due to the “coochie” doctor setting her up for you, there is little margin for error. According to Bedsider, the chance of an IUD going wrong is miniscule.
8) Myth: Condoms are the only protection from HPV
We have all seen those commercials on repeat. “Gardasil is the vaccine that protects from HPV which causes cervical cancer” blah blah blah as the young, independent, 20 year old woman skips through the park. However, if she got vaccinated, she’s smarter than you might realize. Human papillomavirus is responsible for cervical, anal, vaginal and penial warts and cancers. Wait, that wasn’t the scary part.
Over 80% of sexually active people carry HPV, as it is transmittable from skin to skin touching and no actual sex is required. Most insurance companies will cover the series of vaccines, which are now available for both women and men. So unless you want some nice, new shiny warts on your down under, I would highly suggested getting vaccinated, because why not?
9) Myth: Withdrawal is an effective form of birth control
Maybe you’re Kenny Rogers and enjoy dealing with the cards that are thrown at you; for the rest of us, I highly discourage relying on withdrawal as your primary contraceptive method. 1 in 5 women who depend on “evacuation” will become pregnant. Let’s think about it this way, the chance of one fierce little soldier breaking into the ovaries is a miracle, but it happens every day so why take that chance?
Contraceptive purposes aside, withdrawal absolutely has no affect on protecting you from those lovely diseases I have been referring to. If you would like to use the good ole’ pull out method in addition to birth control and condoms, that sounds like a pretty solid plan.
10) Myth: Contracting an STD means your life is over
Let’s be honest, no one wants a little village living off of your genitals. You know your body best, so if something doesn’t seem right with the feng shui between your legs, absolutely get it checked out. While your mom may be a great resource, I would suggest going to see a medical doctor. The good new is, a portion of STD’s are bacterial, which makes them easy to treat. For the difficult ones, the H’s (Hepatitis, Herpes, HIV and HPV) treatment can be a bit more complicated. Any disease attacking your reproductive region can lead to infertility, even death if untreated. Modern medicine makes a good portion of these completely curable.
When considering the viral bunch, even HIV, lifelong treatment plans allow afflicted individuals to live a healthy and close to normal lives. An STD may mean you need to change some of your sexual habits but no it is not the end of the world. Seek treatment as soon as possible and listen to medical advice, odds are you’ll be fine. To prevent any future visitors, condoms are your primary form of protection; maybe avoid Tinder as well as other hookup apps.
Resources: https://tools.plannedparenthood.org/std/intro, http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/statistics/, https://www.bedsider.org/features/643-iud-expulsion-is-it-as-scary-as-it-sounds, http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/hpv/fast-facts/, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/withdrawal-pull-out-method/how-effective-is-withdrawal-method-pulling-out
Let us know what you think about these sexual health myths in the comments below!
Featured Image Source: weheartit.com
Chloe is a peer health educator on Virginia Tech's campus. She is currently a senior working towards a B.S. in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise as well as minors in Spanish and Biology. She enjoys dogs more than most humans and can be found boating with her dad all summer long.