Myths vs facts about STIs

When it comes to sexual health, there are a lot of myths out there. Whether you heard about it from a friend or read it online, believing a myth about sexual health can lead to some serious consequences. Here are six myths and facts about sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Myth: You can’t get an STI if your partner is a virgin.


Depending on how your partner defines being a virgin, it’s still possible for them to have contracted an STI. Your partner might not have had vaginal sex, but may have had oral sex which also puts them at risk. There are also STIs (such as herpes and HPV) that are passed through skin-to-skin contact, even if no penetration has taken place. It’s important to discuss sexual history with your partner and always practice safe sex.

Myth: STIs go away on their own.


It’s very unlikely that an STI will go away by itself (without treatment), and if you delay seeking treatment there’s a risk that the infection could cause long-term complications. Even if you don’t show any symptoms, there’s still a risk of passing the infection on to your partner.

Myth: If you (or your partner) have an STI, you’ll know it.


A person can feel and look healthy, yet still have an STI and transmit it to others. Not even a healthcare provider can tell without doing an actual test. That’s why getting tested before any sexual activity with your partner is very important.

Myth: You can’t get an STI from oral or anal sex.


The viruses and bacteria that cause STIs don’t just affect the genital area. They can be spread through cuts in the mouth and the anus. Some STIs, like genital warts and herpes, can be contracted from skin-to-skin contact alone.

Myth: All STIs are curable.


Unfortunately, this isn’t true, which means there’s a chance of you contracting an STI that won’t go away (despite treatment). While bacterial STIs, like chlamydia and gonorrhoea, can be cured by antibiotics, viral STIs, like genital herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV), have no cure. The treatment for viral STIs focuses on managing outbreaks and symptoms, but the STI can never actually go away or be cured. This means that there’s always a risk of passing it to others via unprotected sex.

Myth: If I take my friend’s STI medication, I don’t need to go for a check-up.


Different STIs need different types of treatments. A prescription of antibiotics needs to be taken in full by the person they were prescribed for, or the infection may not be treated/cured. It’s never a good idea to share or take pills that aren’t prescribed specifically to you by a healthcare provider.

There’s a lot of misinformation around STIs. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the facts, go for regular screening, and use a condom every time you have sex, to protect yourself and your partner against STIs and unwanted pregnancy.

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).