Plenty of sexual health myths have been doing the rounds for years, in fact you probably remember a few from your schooldays. These rumours usually stem from ignorance, or are even intended to frighten adolescents away from sexual acts.
The danger of these myths, however, is that people end up establishing these ideas as fact in their own minds, and then spread the misinformation to others. Read on for a selection of the most common sexual health myths and misconceptions.
While this may seem plausible in theory due to the direct contact of skin onto contaminated objects, it is in fact very unlikely.
The reason for this is that bacteria and viruses cannot survive long outside the human body. As long as you practise good hygiene and wash your hands, public toilets are perfectly safe. The most common way to catch an STI is through sexual intercourse, oral or anal sex and other skin to skin contact.
Yes of course! There’s no special protection the first time you have sex. If a male and female don’t use contraception during sex at any time, it can result in a pregnancy. As soon as a female is ovulating and releasing eggs, she is capable of becoming pregnant. The ovulation process happens before she has her period, so even if she has not begun to menstruate, pregnancy is still a risk.
The withdrawal method is not 100% effective for several reasons. Firstly, there is often sperm in the pre-ejaculatory fluid that can leak out before withdrawal. STIs can also be passed on in pre-ejaculate (pre-come) so withdrawing the penis early on doesn’t protect or prevent you from getting an infection. Secondly, even if the man ejaculates outside the vagina, there’s no guarantee sperm won’t get inside through other contact. Using condoms is the best way to protect yourself against both STIs and unwanted pregnancy.
Of those receiving treatment for HIV in 2013, more had been diagnosed following heterosexual contact (48%) than drug use (2%) and sex between men (44%) combined.
According to the National Aids Trust, 81,512 people required access to specialist HIV care in 2013, almost double the figure in 2004 (41,157 people). Anyone who has unprotected sex is potentially at risk of HIV and therefore should get tested as soon as possible.
No - sexually transmitted infections are spread through viruses or bacteria. They thrive in warm, soft and moist areas including the penis, vagina, vulva and the perineum (area between the genitals and the anus). Generally, STIs are passed through bodily fluids or direct contact with the skin or sores. Use condoms or an oral barrier during oral sex to protect yourself from infections.
It’s possible to be infected with more than one sexually transmitted infection at the same time. However, bear in mind you may only display symptoms of one infection, or even have no symptoms at all. The only way to be sure is to take an STI test as soon as possible following unprotected sex. Some infections, such as chlamydia, can affect your fertility if they are left untreated, even if you have no symptoms.
For more information about sexual health, visit the 121doc information page.