No Dirty Talks! Busting Myths About STIs 🍑
Around 30 million Indians were diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in 2020. That’s almost 22 in every 1000 people…
India has made commendable progress when it comes to sexual health of women and young people, but we still have a long way to go. Better late than never. Ten years ago, the word sex would make everyone around you uncomfortable.
Today, thanks to digital media, sex-positive publications, and non profits across the country and world, we are discussing things in open, breaking the stigma that was long associated with sexual health.
Sexual health has always been a topic that’s kept under the blanket because it is too personal. However, knowledge beyond just simple biology is necessary. Not only will it help stay away from STIs and unwanted pregnancies, it will also make intimate relationships better.
But what are STIs?
Sexually transmitted infection usually occurs through an unprotected sexual contact (oral, vaginal and anal) and is caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. There are over 30 different sexually transmissible bacteria, viruses and parasites.
The most common STIs are gonorrhoeae, chlamydia, syphilis, trichomoniasis, chancroid, genital herpes, genital warts, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and hepatitis B infection.
What do the numbers say?
According to WHO’s estimates, 374 million new cases of either one of the four most common STIs came to light all over the world in 2020.
Trichomoniasis (156 million)
Chlamydia (129 million)
Gonorrhoea (82 million)
Syphilis (7.1 million)
If you’re someone who indulges in unprotected sex or has multiple sexual partners, you’re at a high risk of catching an STI. Are STIs curable? Some types of STIs that are most commonly found are curable; others are not. Are they life-threatening? Yes!
So, what can you do to protect yourself? Always always always have protected sex, even if you don’t have multiple partners. Apart from that, having knowledge about your body and sexual health helps you make informed decisions when it comes to sex.
Because we’ve just started opening up, there are a lot of myths that cloud the topic. It’s time to debunk them.
Myth: I show no symptoms, I don’t have any STI.
Fact: We’ll let the WHO report’s numbers take this one: Over a million people acquire an STI everyday worldwide, but most of them are asymptomatic. However, as you must’ve learnt during Covid-19 pandemic, asymptomatic doesn’t mean you can’t spread the infection.
Myth: Condoms are 100% effective.
Fact: Just reading the fine print on the condom packs will absolve this myth. Even the best of the condoms have only 98% efficiency when it comes to pregnancy. However, they’re highly efficient when it comes to preventing STIs.
You can always club it with another form of contraception. Just don’t use two condoms together because that causes friction between them, weakening the material, causing it to tear.
Myth: Masturbation can cause STIs!
Fact: Feeling guilty after those 5 seconds of euphoria? We are not saying that you get done quickly, all we’re saying is that masturbation is harmless. However, be careful if you’re using any sex toys. Also, go easy on yourself, your body isn’t a machine. Aggressive acts can lead to injury. Other myths like masturbation can make you go blind or masturbation may lead to erectile dysfunction or sexual dysfunction are also as real as aliens in the sky.
Masturbation is healthy. It is one of the safest ways to pleasure yourself.
Myth: HIV is a gay disease.
Fact: The chances of contracting HIV are high if you have anal sex. This is one of the reasons why people indulging in unprotected anal sex are at high risk of contracting HIV. They can be anyone and not belong to a particular identity. Anyone can contract HIV if they’re having unsafe sex with multiple partners. Unprotected vaginal sex and oral sex (if there are cuts) can also lead to HIV.
Myth: You can’t get an STI through oral sex
Fact: Men discharge bodily fluids when they are aroused, before they ejaculate. Women also produce vaginal fluids during arousal. While having oral sex, these fluids get exchanged and can cause STIs. Although kissing is a low risk activity, if there are cuts or sores, there is a chance of contracting an STI.
Always remember to have protected sex, try to not have multiple sexual partners and don't indulge in high-risk sexual activities. Our attitude towards using contraception should be positive so that we can have a healthy sexual life and enjoy sex.
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