Even today, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are a taboo topic that do not always get the attention they deserve. The hesitance to talk openly about STIs has resulted in numerous misconceptions. Improved sexual education in schools has helped to dispel some of these myths, but others continue to persist.
Misunderstandings around STIs can lead to potentially risky behaviours that expose us to significant health concerns and consequences. To help separate fact from fiction, we have put together a short list debunking some of the more common misconceptions surrounding STIs. Read on to find out more.
1) All STIs Have Visible Symptoms
One of the most dangerous and damaging misconceptions about STIs is that they all have visible or noticeable signs. While STIs like genital herpes or pubic lice have easily identifiable symptoms, many other STIs can be asymptomatic. This can result in individuals spreading STIs to their partners without realising that they have been infected themselves.
During early stages of some STIs, even doctors will not be able to diagnose you with an infection through a physical exam. Laboratory testing involving blood and urine samples is required. This is where STI testing is extremely important to ensure we have not caught a potentially life-threatening STI, and are not passing it on to others.
2) STIs Will Resolve On Their Own
Among those who have noticeable STI symptoms, some might mistakenly believe that the infection will clear up on its own. This is true to some extent as certain types of HPV infections may not need medical intervention. However, many other STIs like syphilis and gonorrhoea require proper treatment to prevent complications.
These infections can lead to serious long-term health consequences if left untreated, so it is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible if there are signs of being exposed to an STI.
Learn More: 4 Signs That You Might Have An STI
3) Condoms Can Protect Us From STIs
It is important to note that condoms do play a role in reducing STI transmissions. But they are not foolproof and do not guarantee protection. Condoms provide a barrier against STIs that spread through bodily fluids such as HIV or gonorrhoea. However, other infections like herpes or HPV may be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact and condoms may not be as effective in stopping their spread.
Condoms also may not cover all of the infected areas, and they may break or rip during sex. While they can and should be used as a layer of protection, having a condom on during sex does not offer immunity to contracting an STI and regular STI screenings are still important.
4) We Cannot Get STIs From Oral Sex
All types of sex whether oral, anal, or vaginal exposes us to contracting an STI. In fact, even sexual contact can lead to STI transmission. The germs that cause STIs can enter your body through microscopic tears or cuts in the mouth, anus, and genitals.
We could opt for condoms or dental dams, however, they are not 100% effective. The best way to combat the spread of STIs and safeguard your health is through regular STI testing and communicating openly with partners about sexual health.
STIs are serious medical conditions and it is important to be well-informed about how they spread and what their symptoms are. Better education and timely medical intervention are important for managing STIs. If you notice symptoms of STIs, visit a dermatologist or an STI clinic for consultation and screening.
Providing evidence-based clinically-proven medical services for a wide range of dermatological conditions, Thomson Specialist Skin Centre is staffed by a team of highly qualified and experienced skincare specialists. Contact us today to learn more about our dermatological services in Singapore and make an appointment with us.