When it comes to STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases), there are a lot of common myths and misconceptions. The medical professionals on our staff have compiled a list of some of the most important facts that you need to know about STDs.
- Anyone who is sexually active should see a doctor regularly for STD testing. There is no substitute for getting tested by a medical professional! Even if you have been tested for STDs in the past, if you continue to be sexually active, you should get tested again.
- The tests doctors use to check for STDs are not particularly painful. They are similar in nature to other tests and exams that doctors perform regularly such as blood draws, urine tests, or vaginal exams.
- STDs can cause a variety of symptoms like sores on your genitalia, vaginal discharge, bleeding during sex, pelvic pain, or fever. You should also know, however, that some STDs will cause no symptoms at all! Regardless of your symptoms, if you are sexually active outside of a strictly monogamous relationship, you should get tested for STDs regularly.
- If an STD is not diagnosed or left untreated, it can cause lasting damage such as infertility, whole body (systemic) infection, dementia, and other very serious complications. Regular testing and following your doctor’s recommendations for treatment can help you avoid such serious complications.
- It is possible to look “clean” and still have an STD. Remember that STDs cause a variety of symptoms and some have no symptoms at all. Even if you don’t see any external signs of an STD on yourself or on a sexual partner, that doesn’t necessarily mean that an STD is not present.
- Some people have an STD but don’t know it. This applies both to you and to any potential sexual partners. If you are sexually active, you should get tested for STDs even if you don’t think you have one and even if your partner doesn’t think he has one.
- Some people do know they have an STD and choose not to tell their partner. There are a variety of reasons why people may not want to tell their sexual partners that they have an STD. What is important for you to remember is that you should still get tested for an STD if you are sexually active, regardless of what your partners tell you.
- A person can pass along an STD even if it is not currently active in her body. Some STDs can remain in a dormant state in a person’s body. That means the STD may not be causing any symptoms or harm, but it can still be passed on to another person.
- Birth control does not prevent against STDs. STDs are spread by contact, and birth control does not stop contact. Even barrier methods like condoms will still leave you exposed to STDs anywhere they do not directly cover.
- Not all STDs can be treated with antibiotics, and not all STDs are curable. Even if you get tested regularly and detect an STD soon after contracting it, it can still have significant long-term consequences, and it may not ever go away completely.
- If you or your partner have been diagnosed with an STD, it is important to make sure that both of you test negative before any further sexual contact. If not, you can cause the infection to be passed back and forth and never clear up!
- The only sure way to prevent STDs is to completely abstain from having sex. And the safest way to have sex is in a stable, long-term, committed relationship where both partners do not have any other sexual partners, such as a marriage.
We don’t want these facts to scare you! Rather, we hope these facts will empower you to have a better understanding of your actions and choices. Use this information to make healthy choices in your own life, and share it with others to help them make healthier choices, too.
Call 713-637-4141 to make an appointment for cost-free STD testing at The Source for Women.
Sources and Further Reading:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—STD Lowdown https://www.cdc.gov/std/prevention/lowdown/lowdown-text-only.htm
Texas Health and Human Services https://www.dshs.texas.gov/hivstd/info/
American Sexual Health Organization http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/statistics/
World Health Organization STI Fact Sheet https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)