True or False? Learn the Facts About Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Recently, Women’s Clinic of Atlanta dove deep into the facts about the most common curable and incurable STIs, detailing how each infection can be transmitted, how symptoms can appear, and how those with an infection can treat or manage it.
But even with a thorough look at the eight leading STIs in the US (chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis, genital herpes, hepatitis B, HIV, and HPV), there are still many misunderstandings surrounding STI transmission, prevention, and what to expect after infection.
Take a look at these true or false statements about STIs to test your knowledge and discover a few facts you never knew:
True or False: STIs Are Rare and Hard to Contract.
STIs are very common and easy to contract, especially for those not using protection during sex. And, even with effective barrier protection like condoms or dental dams, transmission is still possible. In fact, the CDC estimates that roughly 20% of the population carries or is infected with an STI at any given time. So, this statement is false.
For many, infections go unnoticed because the person infected is asymptomatic. It is possible to carry and spread any common STI virus without knowing it. Both treatable and non-treatable STIs pass easily from one person to another through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Infections like the herpes virus can also pass through acts like kissing or sharing cups and utensils.
To best protect yourself against infection or from spreading a sexually transmitted virus, get tested and ask any potential sexual partners to get tested, as well.
True or False: You Can Have an STI and Not Know It.
Depending on the viral or parasitic infection, an STI can go unnoticed for weeks, months, or even years before the infected person realizes they have contracted something. In fact, some people might live their entire lives unaware they were ever infected. Since many do not show symptoms after contracting an STI, it is possible to unknowingly contract and spread an STI. So, this statement is true.
Nearly all of the top eight STIs can go unnoticed for long periods of time. However, many of them can still cause serious health issues if left untreated, making it so important to get tested before and after switching sexual partners. Before becoming sexually active with a new partner, ask them to get tested, as well, for the ultimate peace of mind.
True or False: STIs Cannot Pass Through Your Saliva.
STIs tend to transmit from person to person through bodily fluids like semen, vaginal fluids, and rectal fluids. However, certain viruses can also pass through saliva after oral sex or kissing. The STIs that can spread through saliva are the herpes virus, syphilis, and HPV. So, this statement is false.
True or False: STIs Can Lead to Infertility.
Pelvic inflammatory disease is a damaging infection that occurs when an untreated STI infects the female reproductive system and wreaks havoc on the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and cervix. PID is a severe medical condition that requires immediate attention for treatment but can be avoided altogether if the STI is detected and treated early. If ignored, the infection can permanently damage the reproductive system, leading to pregnancy complications or even total infertility. So, this statement is true.
The STIs that can cause PID include chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis.
True or False: Condoms Will Protect Me from Contracting STIs.
Barrier protection like condoms is recommended to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy and the chances of spreading or contracting certain STIs. Male and female condoms are considered highly effective in protecting people against STIs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV. However, condoms are less likely to prevent transmission of STIs like herpes, HPV, and syphilis since these spread through cuts, sores, or skin-to-skin contact. So, this statement is partly true and partly false.
To help protect against a herpes infection, infected persons can take a daily antiviral medication that suppresses the virus, significantly reducing their chances of passing it to their partner. Also, infected persons should avoid sexual intercourse during an outbreak.
To help protect yourself against HPV, get vaccinated before becoming sexually active. Infected persons should still use condoms and dental dams to help reduce skin-to-skin contact, even though they provide less protection.
To help protect against syphilis, get tested and undergo treatment for a syphilis infection should you test positive. Avoid intercourse with a syphilis-positive person who has not undergone treatment yet. If you or your partner develop genital sores, avoid further intercourse and get tested. Use a condom with a new partner, especially if they have not been tested yet. Remember, syphilis is treatable but can go under the radar without proper testing.
True or False: Contracting an STI Means I’m Going to Develop Cervical Cancer.
HPV is the STI that can lead to cervical cancer and other cancers in the throat, anus, or penis. If you have tested positive for HPV, it does not automatically mean you will develop any of these cancers. There are over 30 strains of HPV, and only a few are considered high risk for cancer. So, this statement is false, for the most part.
Should you contract any of the high-risk strains of HPV, your chance of developing cervical cancer does increase. But again, it is not guaranteed that a cancer diagnosis will be in your future. Maintain regular visits with your gynecologist or healthcare provider to monitor your reproductive system so that precancerous issues can be caught and treated early.
If you are concerned about an STI or want to get tested for peace of mind, turn to the caring team at the Women’s Clinic of Atlanta.
Our medical professionals provide full panel STI testing, treatments, and beneficial information surrounding any infection. We are judgment-free and offer compassionate care, no matter what you are facing.
Schedule an STI screening by texting “appointment” to 404-777-4771 today.
Women’s Clinic of Atlanta is HIPAA compliant and AAAHC accredited.