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STDs &STIs: Debunking Misconceptions

By Oluwatomiwa Ogunniyi
10 July 2022   |   9:00 am
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), although often confused and subject to misconceptions, aren’t actually the same thing despite the fact that all STDs are caused by an STI. They are conditions that are typically consulted with doctors but stigmas associated with these conditions have left patients quiet and when STDs and…

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), although often confused and subject to misconceptions, aren’t actually the same thing despite the fact that all STDs are caused by an STI.

They are conditions that are typically consulted with doctors but stigmas associated with these conditions have left patients quiet and when STDs and STIs are left untreated, problems ensue. Here are some myths often told about STDs and STIs and how they can be treated.
Myth #1: Cranberry Juice helps with STIs
Maybe you’re looking for a way to avoid taking antibiotics or you just want to take some sort of immediate action to relieve your symptoms till you see your doctor.

Despite the popularity of cranberry juice as an alternative, cranberry products don’t likely help with a STI once it’s already developed and there are no studies that have shown that drinking cranberry juice or taking a cranberry supplement actually works to treat STIs.

Myth #2: STIs can be gotten from too much sex.
Sometimes you can get an STI even if you’re careful. However, does it still make it a myth if this is slightly true? Experts say that the more sex you have in a short amount of time, the less natural moisture your body is able to produce.

Too much sex could also cause irritation or rashes on the external skin around the vulva and your labia could become engorged and swollen.

Too much intercourse could still cause an infection and you might not find out until days later.

Another unpleasant and possible side effect of too much sex is an increase in the risk of bladder and vaginal infections. Bodily fluids can knock your vagina’s natural pH levels, which makes you more prone to infection. You should always use the bathroom before and after sex to help keep your vagina healthy.

Myth #3: STD resolves on its own.
Unfortunately, most STDs will not go away on their own and there are long-term side effects and health risks that accompany STDs, so you should seek treatment when you see signs of an infection.

Some common signs of an infection include; an increased urge to urinate with little or nothing coming out, a burning sensation while urinating, urine that is cloudy, pink, or has blood in it, as well as unusual discharge, pain and odours. These symptoms don’t always appear at first, so check with your doctor if you’re still not sure.

Myth #4: STIs cannot be contacted through oral sex.
Oral sex is any type of sexual activity where a person’s mouth, lips, or tongue comes into contact with another person’s genitals or anus. Unlike sexual intercourse, pregnancy can’t result from having oral sex, but it is still advisable to still use protection; some of the most common STIs like Chlamydia, Herpes, Gonorrhea, Syphilis and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can be passed on through oral sex.
While the risk of contracting most STIs from oral sex is lower than for vaginal or anal sex, there is still a risk of transmission and contracting them can have horrible consequences for you, an unborn child if you’re pregnant and your sexual partners, if you don’t get treated.

Myth #5: STDs can be transmitted through skin contact.
STDs are sexually transmitted diseases, which means they are most often but not exclusively spread by sexual intercourse.

The infections are caused by bacteria or a virus that can enter your body through tiny cuts or tears in your skin and mucous membranes and the germs that cause STDs hide in semen, blood, vaginal secretions and sometimes saliva and most of the organisms are spread by vaginal, anal, or oral sex, but some such as those that cause genital herpes and genital warts may be spread through skin contact.

Myth #6: It can only affect you if your partner has one and you have been around them for too long
This is why testing is very important; you or your partner can have and transmit an STD without showing any signs or symptoms.

Myth #7: The only people who get STIs are young people.
Another common misconception that the only people who get STIs are young people; like teenagers or people in their 20s.

Definitely if you are sexually active or even not currently sexually active but have ever been sexually active, you can be diagnosed for the first time with an STI.

Myth #8: A condom can protect you from getting an STD
A condom can help lower the risk, but it is not foolproof, because they don’t always totally cover infected areas or they can rip or break.

Myth #10; You can get an STD from a public toilet
This is untrue because STDs need a warm body to live and will die outside of that environment. So while it’s essential to have good hygiene, especially in public toilets, STDs are spread from person-to-person contact and not from toilets or other surfaces.

Treatment for STIs
Antibiotics
Antibiotics, often in a single dose, can cure many sexually transmitted bacterial and parasitic infections, including gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia. Once you start the antibiotic treatment, it is necessary to finish the prescription.

It is also important to abstain from sex for seven days after you’ve completed antibiotic treatment.

Antiviral drugs
If you have herpes or HIV, you will be prescribed an antiviral drug. You will also have fewer herpes recurrences if you take daily suppressive therapy with a prescription antiviral drug. However, it’s still possible to give your partner herpes.

Antiviral drugs can keep HIV infection in check for many years. But you will still carry the virus and can still transmit it, though the risk is lower.

The sooner you start HIV treatment, the more effective it is.

If tests show that you have an STI then your sex partners, including your current partners and any other partners you’ve had over the last three months to one year need to be informed so that they can get tested, if they’re infected, they can then be treated.

If you’ve had an STI, ask your doctor how long after treatment you need to be retested. Getting retested will ensure that the treatment worked and you haven’t been re-infected.

However, the ability for these things to be treated does not reduce the significance of practicing safe sex or using condoms.