When it comes to sex or sexual health, we have heard a number of myths. From the “pull-out” method to usage of double condoms, we hear it all. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1 million Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs) are acquired worldwide each day. The number may be high but the individuals talking about it are equally less. This unwillingness to speak openly about sexual health can breed misinformation. Yes, the internet is informative, but may not be trustworthy.
Increasing understanding of sexual health helps people make informed, safe decisions. Here, on The Fitness India Show, we take the initiative to bring out common myths associated with sexual health.
Myth: “The more sex partners someone has the more likely they are to get an STI.”
Fact: It doesn’t matter how many sex partners a person has. It’s a choice a person tends to make for themselves. That does not mean they have any higher chances than a normal person to get an STI. Practicing safer sex by using latex barriers, getting tested and communicating with partners can help protect someone from getting an STI.
Myth: You can’t get pregnant during your period.
Fact: Woman, you can get pregnant during your period. Sperm can live for up to seven days, so if you ovulate the week after your period, you can get pregnant. It is not safe to have sex during your period unless you are using some form of contraception.
Myth: The ‘withdrawal method’ prevents pregnancy.
Fact: The so-called withdrawal method, also called coitus interruptus or the pull-out method, is when the penis is pulled out of the vagina before ejaculation. Your guy’s pull out game might be strong and may reduce the chances, but that doesn’t ensure you can’t get pregnant. The penis releases pre-ejaculate, or pre-cum, before ejaculation. In some cases, sperm can be present in this fluid.
Myth: There are no treatments for STI.
Fact: Although STIs can be treated, not all can be cured. The WHO explains that eight pathogens make up the vast majority of STIs. Four of the eight are curable: the bacterial infections syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, and the parasitic infection trichomoniasis. The remaining four are viral: hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV), HIV, and human papilloma virus (HPV). These cannot yet be cured. However, it is worth noting that HPV infections are often cleared by the body naturally.
Myth: You can only transmit an STI if you have symptoms.
Fact: Many individuals pass on STI without being aware of it. Majority of them have mild or no symptoms, hence, its best to get tested regularly and use condom every time during penetrative sex. Regular testing and understanding how to keep yourself safe are key to remaining STI-free.
Myth: You have to use emergency contraception the morning after sex.
Fact: The “morning after pill” is an emergency hormonal contraception pill, not necessarily to be taken the morning after sex. This pill is to be taken if you have unprotected sex, or if the condom breaks. Even so, Morning-after pills do not end a pregnancy that has implanted. They work primarily by delaying or preventing ovulation. They can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after having unprotected sex.
Myth: Too much sex will stretch out your vagina.
Fact: Girls, have as much ‘protected’ sex as you like. The idea that frequent sex or even childbirth will cause your vagina to permanently stretch out is inaccurate. Aging and hormonal changes can eventually influence the elasticity and tone of the vagina, but Va-jay-jay is not gonna stretch.
Myth: Women have a lower sex drive than men.
Fact: It is a sexist myth, but it’s believed that men are sex-obsessed and will jump at any opportunity for coitus, while women are more reserved and far less interested in sex. While women’s sex drive can be influenced by factors like pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause, none of this means that women inherently have a lower sex drive than men.
Myth: Douching is a good way to clean your vagina.
Fact: Vaginal douching is washing the vagina with water or a mixture of fluids to eliminate odors and “clean” the vagina. If you douche, you may upset your vagina’s natural environment. You could end up dealing with complications that can be quite severe. Do not douche after sex. Just stick to rinsing the vulva and let the vagina manage its own cleaning. If you’re a person who’s prone to irritation, urinary tract infections (UTIs), or yeast infections and cleaning up after sex will give you peace of mind, a gentle rinse is fine.
STIs are common, but preventable. Take the necessary step and be safe.