Can You Tell the STD Myths From the Facts?

Eileen Bailey | Jan 24, 2018

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The only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested.
  1. 0 Myth
  2. 1 Fact
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Fact: The majority of STDs have no symptoms or only mild symptoms that you might not associate with an STD, according to the World Health Organization. While some STDs do have symptoms, such as a vaginal discharge, a drip from the penis, or pain in the pelvic area in women, many do not have any symptoms. Chlamydia is often called the “silent epidemic” because most people do not have any symptoms.

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  1. 1

    The only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested.

    Correct Answer: Fact

    Fact: The majority of STDs have no symptoms or only mild symptoms that you might not associate with an STD, according to the World Health Organization. While some STDs do have symptoms, such as a vaginal discharge, a drip from the penis, or pain in the pelvic area in women, many do not have any symptoms. Chlamydia is often called the “silent epidemic” because most people do not have any symptoms.

  2. 2

    If I use long-term birth control, such as birth control pills or an IUD, I don't need to use a condom.

    Correct Answer: Myth

    Myth: Birth control, such as an IUD or birth control pills, reduce the chance of an unwanted pregnancy but do not protect you from contracting an STD. A study completed in 2016 found that teenage girls were more likely to skip condom use if they were on a long-term birth control method. The researchers speculated that the myth that long-term birth control prevents STDs could contribute to the teens skipping using the condom.

  3. 3

    You can only contract an STD through vaginal sex.

    Correct Answer: Myth

    Myth: STDs can be spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. While vaginal sex is the only type that can result in pregnancy, it is not the only type that can spread STDs. Certain STDs, such as herpes, can be spread through oral sex, and anal sex can spread HIV, herpes, and other types of STDs. This myth survives because some people believe that having sex only refers to vaginal sex.

  4. 4

    A routine STD test does not test for all STDs.

    Correct Answer: Fact

    Fact: According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 30 different types of sexually transmissible bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Most STD tests screen for the most common types, but there isn’t a test that checks for all of the possible STDs at once. If you’re worried about a particular STD, ask your doctor if you should be tested for it.

  5. 5

    Only people who "sleep around" or are promiscuous get STDs.

    Correct Answer: Myth

    Myth: People who have an STD are often judged as being promiscuous or “dirty,” but the fact is that anyone who has sex is at risk of getting an STD. Half of all sexually active people will contract an STD by age 25, according to the American Sexual Health Association.

  6. 6

    Despite increased knowledge and education, rates of STDs continue to increase.

    Correct Answer: Fact

    Fact: In 2016, the rates of STDs increased for the third year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gonorrhea rates increased by 18.5 percent, syphilis by 17.6 percent, and chlamydia by 4.7 percent.

  7. 7

    Chlamydia and gonorrhea are similar to viruses like the common cold — they are contagious for a while but eventually they will go away on their own.

    Correct Answer: Myth

    Myth: There are treatments available for chlamydia and gonorrhea, and both are curable. However, they will not go away without treatment. When untreated they can cause long-terms sexual health problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women, according to the American Sexual Health Association.

  8. 8

    Homemade condoms — for example, using saran wrap — are not a safe alternative to condoms.

    Correct Answer: Fact

    Fact: Some people believe that if you don’t have a condom, you can improvise with plastic wrap, balloons, shower caps, or baggies. You can’t. According to StayTeen.org, “Plastic wrap, baggies and other household materials are not good substitutes for a condom. They don’t fit, can easily be torn and can get displaced during sex… When it comes to condoms, there’s no substitute for the real thing.”

  9. 9

    Only young people need to worry about STDs.

    Correct Answer: Myth

    Myth: Just as STD rates are rising in young people, they are continuing to climb in those over the age of 45, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rates of infection increased 20 percent in 2016 from the year before. While STD rates for all ages increased, the rate of increase in older people was larger than for the rest of the population.

  10. 10

    Using two condoms will give me more protection than using just one.

    Correct Answer: Myth

    Myth: Although it may seem logical that if one condom offers protection, then two would double that protection, this isn’t true. According to KidsHealth.org, doubling up your condoms is a bad idea. The friction from the two condoms rubbing together can cause breaks and tears, which will decrease your protection.