We all know that living with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can be an unpleasant and even life-altering experience. These diseases, like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, are all too common here in Alabama—over 46,000 cases in 2019. Numerous STD myths and rumors are partly to blame, as they can keep you from understanding precisely how to protect yourself.
All STDs are infections that spread through sexual contact. Bacteria, viruses, or parasites cause them and can affect anyone who is sexually active. Unfortunately, they can have major consequences for physical and mental health and lead to long-term health problems if left untreated. Therefore, it’s important to know the facts and arm yourself against misinformation!
Common STD Myths and Why They Aren’t True
Here are some of the most common STD myths you might hear or see on social media and why you can safely disregard them.
Myth #1: You Can Tell Someone Has an STD Just By Looking
Don’t believe what people say: you can’t tell someone has an STD just by looking at them. Many STDs have no visible symptoms, and some people may not even know they are infected.
The only way to know for sure is to get tested. Fortunately, it’s easy. Just provide a urine sample, swab, or blood test, send it to the lab, and wait for the results. Here at OB/GYN Associates of Alabama, we’re happy to provide STD testing discreetly and without judgment anytime you need it.
Myth #2: You Can’t Get an STD if You Only Have Sex Once
Unfortunately, this STD myth is also false. People can and do get STDs even if it is their first time.
The pathogens that cause STDs don’t care about the frequency of sex and intimacy. The only thing that matters to them is the opportunity to move from one host to the next.
Related: Do condoms prevent STDs?
Yes and no. Condoms are your best bet when it comes to reducing your chances of contracting an STD, as they can be highly effective. However, you must use them correctly and also avoid any direct contact with your partner’s infected areas. Condoms do not provide 100% guaranteed protection against any STD, according to the CDC. But you should still use them to reduce your risk!
Myth #3: Only People Who Sleep Around Get STDs
Again, this isn’t true, based on the last point. You only need one instance of sexual contact to get an STD. And even if you only sleep with one person, your partner may not—they can pass it on to you no matter how monogamous you are. Along with safe sex practices, communication is critical in the fight against STDs.
Many people avoid speaking to their OB/GYN out of fear of being labeled or judged as a promiscuous person. But you should go get tested if you notice any unusual symptoms—find a doctor who will listen and provide care compassionately, no matter what.
Myth #4: You Can Cure STDs with Antibiotics
Sometimes, people don’t take safe sex seriously enough because they think any infection they get can be fixed quickly with a round of pills. It is true that chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis—three of the most common STDs—can be treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, many STDs are unresponsive to antibiotics because viruses cause them.
Doctors sometimes prescribe antivirals or topical treatments for these conditions. Some conditions can be managed with medications but not cured, such as herpes and HIV. Even with those that can be treated with antibiotics, early detection and treatment is key to successful recovery.
Myth #5: You Can’t Get STDs from Kissing
Many people ask us: can you get STDs from kissing? Unfortunately, you can. It’s true that the majority of STDs can’t be spread with a kiss. But diseases arne’t only spread through genital-to-genital contact. All forms of sexual contact carry some risk of tranmission, including oral sex and, yes, the simple smooch.
Kissing is certainly a low-risk activity when it comes to STDs, but it is still possible to transmit syphilis, herpes, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) through your saliva. The risk is greater when your partner has an active infection, such as oral sores or “cold sores.” If you or your partner are experiencing any type of mouth sore, it’s probably best to find another way to express your affection until it clears up.
Are You Worried? Get Tested For STDs For Peace of Mind
If you are worried that you might have an STD, it’s critical to know where you stand. Therefore, we recommend that you talk to us. OB/GYN Associates of Alabama is here to help you through any questions you may have, recommend treatment, and provide tips to prevent you from becoming infected again. The most common STDs are not life-threatening and regular drugs can treat them.
Don’t worry: we’re not here to judge! We’re here to empower your well-being and make sure you know everything you need to protect your health.
STD Testing, Birth Control, & More at Birmingham’s Best OB/GYN Clinic
At OB/GYN Associates of Alabama, we’re proud to serve women from our three locations in downtown Birmingham, Hoover, and Gardendale. Since 1965, we’ve been on the leading edge of women’s health, supporting our patients at every stage of life. If you have a question you’ve felt too embarrassed to ask, let our compassionate doctors answer them so you can go forward in confidence. Contact us online today or call (205) 271-1600 to request an appointment!