STD Myths and Facts
April is Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month, making it a great time for everyone to learn the facts about STDs and the precautions they should take to protect their health.
Also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), STDs are extremely common, annually infecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. STDs affect people of all ages, backgrounds, and sexual orientations. In the United States, approximately 20 million new cases occur each year. About half of all new cases occur in young people between the ages of 15 and 24, putting their overall health and reproductive health at risk.
Here at Health Edco, we have a dedicated line of sex education teaching materials that raise awareness about STDs, their potential health consequences, and the steps people can take to help protect themselves.
Read on to learn the facts behind some common STD myths, and discover just a few of our comprehensive sex education products, resources, and teaching tools that are ideal to educate young people and adults about STD contraction and prevention.
Common STD Myths
MYTH: Using condoms protects against all sexually transmitted diseases.
FACT: Although condoms are highly effective in preventing the transmission of STDs when used the right way every time, condoms are not 100% effective in preventing STDs or pregnancy. For example, herpes and genital warts can be spread by skin-to-skin contact. If a condom does not cover an infected area or sore, these STDs can be transmitted from one partner to another.
If you are sexually active, correctly use a new male latex condom every time you have sex for protection against STDs. If you are unable to use a male latex condom, use a male polyurethane condom. When used for vaginal sex, female condoms provide comparable STD protection to male condoms. Do not use male and female condoms at the same time.
Model is ideal to teach the importance of condom use for STD protection.
MYTH: Teens are less likely to have an STD than sexually active adults.
FACT: Teens and young adults are actually at higher risk for contracting STDs. Young people are at increased risk for a variety of reasons. For example, young women’s bodies are more biologically susceptible to STDs. Teens and young adults are less likely to be married, which may make them more likely to have multiple partners and high-risk partners. They also may be more likely to have unprotected sex and less likely to seek healthcare or talk openly about their sexual activity with their healthcare professionals.
MYTH: Older adults don’t need to worry about STDs.
FACT: Rates of STDs have been rising among all age groups, including a dramatic rise among middle-aged and older adults. STD infection rates may be increasing among older adults for a number of reasons. Thanks to medications, older adults may be maintaining more active sex lives than in previous generations. Older adults may mistakenly believe they or their partners are not at risk for STDs and not use condoms, or they may be dating again after the loss of a spouse and be unaccustomed to condom use after years of being in a long-term, monogamous relationship. Also, older adults may have weaker immune systems that are more vulnerable to infection.
MYTH: You don’t need to worry about STDs unless you have sex with a lot of partners.
FACT: STDs are a risk to anyone who engages in sexual activity—even with only one partner one time. If you have sex just once, whether vaginal, oral, or anal, you can still get an STD from an infected partner.
excellent icebreaking activity to start discussions about STDs.
MYTH: You can’t get an STD while having sex in a shower, bath, or pool.
FACT: Any sexual contact with an infected person puts you at risk for STDs. STDs are transmitted by sexual contact through vaginal, oral, or anal sex and intimate skin-to-skin contact. Any exposure to genitalia or body fluids puts you at risk, whether you are in the water or not.
MYTH: You can’t get an STD from giving or receiving oral sex.
FACT: Many STDs can and do get transmitted by giving or receiving oral sex. STDs such as gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and HPV can be spread by oral sex. Infections can occur in the throat and sometimes on the lips or in the mouth as well as in the genital area. For example, HPV transmitted to the mouth through oral sex can lead to warts in the throat as well as to head and neck cancers, while HPV infection in the genital area can cause genital warts and cancers of the cervix, vagina, penis, and anus.
awareness and teach the facts about oral sex and STDs.
MYTH: You would know if you had an STD, even without being tested.
FACT: Most people with an STD don’t know they are infected because STDs often don’t have any symptoms. Just because you aren’t showing any symptoms at a particular time doesn’t mean that you aren’t infected. The only way to know for certain whether you have an STD is to get tested by a healthcare professional.
MYTH: You would be able to tell if someone else had an STD.
FACT: Again, many STDs have no signs or symptoms. Just because you can’t see sores, blisters, or rashes on a partner doesn’t mean he or she isn’t infected with an STD. In many cases, symptoms appear only when an STD has reached an advanced stage.
Dangers of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Many STDs are curable, and all are treatable. Without treatment, STDs can have serious consequences, ranging from infertility and liver disease to certain forms of cancer, infant harms, and even death.
models to highlight the serious health effects of STDs.
The only certain way to avoid STDs is to practice abstinence, including contact with genitalia and exchange of body fluids. Using condoms, limiting your number of sexual partners, and avoiding substance abuse can help reduce the risk for contracting an STD.
Health Edco’s STD Education Resources
Health Edco’s line of sex education teaching tools and materials includes resources that are great for classroom activities and demonstrations, health fairs, and more. Our male condom training models and female contraceptive models are perfect for demonstrating proper use of male and female condoms to help protect against STD transmission. In addition to our STD Roulette Game featured above, our Wheel of Choices Game and Sex & Consequences Game are both ideal for teaching young people the facts about STDs.
To discover our diverse line of STD education resources, please visit our Sex Education Materials and Teaching Resources Section.
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