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India is far from a sex-positive society. In our society and in our homes, sex remains taboo. The same is true in our healthcare industry, where sex-positive information is hard to come by. This active aversion to “sex” leads to popular myths about sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
This lack of information about preventive measures and treatment results in higher social and economic costs of sexually transmitted diseases. One key difference is that STDs are not the result of sex, they are transmitted only through sex.
Furthermore, the health industry and any available information is built on a heteronormative idea of sex. Sex is understood only as an act of penetration, thus leading to the popular myth that STDs are only the result of penetrative sex. Conversely, STIs can be transmitted through oral sex, anal sex, kissing, and external intercourse.
Transmission of sexually transmitted diseases
Lack of information and the creation of social taboos in India have led to STDs becoming a national health problem. The latest statistics from National health portal show that 30-35 million people suffer from one or more STDs in India.
Popular STDs that can be transmitted through non-penetrative sex are herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HPV. Study by WHO shows that 67 percent of people in the world are infected with oral herpes. Good preventive measures are condoms and dental dams. It is important to be weary that no contraceptive can prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
Orientation in healthcare
Health care is difficult to navigate because of the social stigma, but there is no alternative to testing. Even if one is in a long-term horizon, testing a monogamous relationship is still important. Most STDs are treatable, but they need medication and won’t just go away.
Additionally, untreated STDs can lead to long-term problems such as infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease. STIs also present with physical symptoms, such as warts and boils, as well as no symptoms. Many adults may be asymptomatic. Regular testing combined with protection in the form of condoms and dental dams can keep sex fun and safe.
We’ve debunked some common STD myths:
Myth: STIs are caused by sex
The fact: Heteronormative ideas about sex and sexuality have led us to believe that penetrative vaginal sex (PIV) is the only kind of sex there is. But that’s not true!
STIs are infections that aretransmitted“through sex, but not always”causedteam. Not all STIs are transmitted through traditional penetrative sex, but they can also be transmitted through oral intercourse, anal intercourse, or external intercourse that could potentially transmit lice and even kissing. Oral herpes is one such STI. According to WHO67 percent of people under the age of 50 have the virus that causes oral herpes in their bodies.
Myth: You can’t get STIs from oral sex
The fact: Yes, sexually transmitted diseases can be widely transmitted through oral sex! STIs such as syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea, HPV, and chlamydia can be transmitted from one sexual partner to another during oral sex.
The best option is to use a condom or a dental dam. While condoms are more commonly available, dental dams can be just a little harder to come by. In these circumstances, a condom cut lengthwise can act as a dental dam.
Myth: There’s no need to get tested for STDs if you’re in a long-term, monogamous relationship
The fact: There is a common misconception that only people with multiple sexual partners or people who are sexually “promiscuous” are the ones who get STDs. It’s not true. First, there is nothing wrong with having multiple sexual partners or “being promiscuous.” Second, it’s important to know that anyone can get an STI. While the symptoms of some STIs manifest physically as a discharge, boils, or warts, other STIs can be asymptomatic. So even if your long-term partner might have an STI, you might not know it by looking at them.
A good sexual health practice is to get tested for STDs more regularly if you are sexually active. Even if you are in a long-term relationship or if you have multiple partners, or if you are entering a sexual relationship – regular STD testing is the best way to protect yourself and your partner or partners!
Myth: All contraceptive methods prevent sexually transmitted diseases
The fact: Not every “protection” can protect you from STDs. While many contraceptive methods can effectively prevent unplanned pregnancy, not all of them provide the same protection against sexually transmitted diseases. So birth control pills, IUDs, implants, pulling out, etc. they do not guarantee that you will not get a sexually transmitted disease.
Both external and internal condoms are a great way to make sure you stay safe during sex. Both condoms and dental dams come in handy for oral sex. Regardless of the type of sex you have, it’s important to know the possible methods you can use to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases.
Myth: STIs just go away on their own
The fact: It is very unlikely that an STI will go away on its own. Often, not seeking treatment for an STI at the right time can lead to long-term health conditions such as infertility or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Read also: 8 different types of contraception to use
There is a lot of stigma and judgment surrounding STIs. Sometimes talking about it with your partner or even your healthcare provider can be a weird, awkward, and generally very unpleasant experience. But there’s no shame in talking to your partner about safe sex or asking your doctor about the best way to treat an STI. Information and help are available.
Many STDs can actually be treated. So get tested regularly, the sooner you are diagnosed, the sooner you can be treated. So keep having fun, but make sure you’re not only protecting yourself, but your partner as well.
As seen on https://feminisminindia.com/2022/09/26/busting-myths-on-sexually-transmitted-infections-stis/