6 myths about STDs debunked

Ignore the whispers & the gossip, let’s learn the facts

Can you really catch an STD from a toilet seat? Will an STD go away by itself? It’s time to play a little game of truth or lie.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are passed through unprotected sex or genital contact. They can spread quickly, just as quickly as urban myths about how you can catch and prevent them. We’ve got your back though. It’s time to set the sexual health story straight by taking a closer look at six common STD myths.

All birth control methods prevent STDs

Let’s bust this myth straightaway, not all forms of contraception protect against STDs. Fact. When used in the right way, hormonal contraceptives, like the pill, are only effective in preventing pregnancy. They can’t stop you from getting or passing on an STD. If you want to help keep STDs at bay, make sure to put condoms at the top of your shopping list. They may not be able to fully stop STDs like herpes or HPV, but external (male) and internal (female) condoms are highly effective and offer the best protection from STDs when you have oral, vaginal or anal sex. Wrap it up.

You’ll know if you have an STD

Nobody knows your body better than you, but don’t leave an STD diagnosis to guesswork. Depending on the STD, symptoms don’t always appear straightaway and can take weeks, months or even years to show. Chlamydia often has no obvious symptoms and gonorrhoea can be just as secretive. After having unprotected sex it can be easy to be in denial and just hope you’ll be OK. If you’ve had unprotected sex or think you might be at risk, get yourself checked and visit your local sexual health clinic or speak with your GP. Play it safe.

You can catch an STD from a toilet

Save the seat-hovering for spin class. This is the mother of all STD myths. You can’t catch an STD from going to the toilet. The bacteria and viruses that cause STDs can’t survive out of the body for long, and much prefer the warmth of skin-to-skin contact or bodily fluids rather than hanging out on cold, hard toilet seats.

You can’t get an STD from oral sex

You sure can – and many do. Let’s get real. You can catch an STD through any form of unprotected sexual shenanigans and that doesn’t just mean penetrative sex. Oral sex is definitely not risk-free and STDs – including syphilis, genital herpes and gonorrhoea – can all be passed on during oral sex. Be smart. Use a condom or dental dam when you have oral sex to reduce the risk of infection.

You only get an STD if you sleep with lots of people

The truth is STDs really don’t care about your sexual history. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk. Whether you’ve had sex with one person or many people, once or more, the risk of catching an STD through unprotected sex is very real. Anyone can catch an STD (yes, even you).

An STD will go away by itself

Sorry to break it to you – if you think you might have an STD and you’re hoping it’ll go away by itself, it won’t. Pretending it’s not happening isn’t the way to go. Left untreated, STDs can cause other health problems later down the line. You’ve got nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. The earlier you get checked, the sooner things can get sorted.

The bottom line is if you’re sexually active, it’s important to get tested regularly even if you practise safe sex. If you’re worried about your sexual health, or you think you have an STD, visit your local sexual health clinic or speak to your GP to help put your mind at ease.