STIs, or Sexually Transmitted Infections, are far more common than most undergraduates are aware of. Around 50 percent of sexually active young adults will contract an STI by the time they turn 25. More than 50% of sexually active young adults will contract HPV at some point. The good thing is that most STIs are treatable, but there are some important things to remember about them. Here are 6 surprising facts you probably didn’t know about STIs:
1. An STI Can Be Present Even If It Is Not Visible
Sexually Transmitted Infections often can not be seen from the naked eye. It is dangerous to assume that since your date isn’t covered in disgusting sores that he has a clean bill of health. In fact, both women and men can have an STI without even knowing it. Some, such as herpes and gonorrhoea, can go undetected and lay dormant for months. Many STIs often show no symptoms at all, which mean your partner may not even know they should get tested.
2. Using Condoms Won’t Always Protect You
You’ve heard the slogan, “no glove, no love,” which means the use of condoms is very important to protect your sexual health. It is true that condoms can often save you from contracting STIs, but it’s not foolproof. STIs are spread through infected skin and infected fluid. It’s important to use a condom because it significantly reduces a person’s chances of contracting an STI, but keep in mind that you’re not out of the woods when you do use one.
3. STI Tests Don’t Always Reveal Everything Under the Surface
The most important form of prevention is knowledge and awareness, so getting tested can save you from many of these unwanted infections. While it’s very important to have your partner tested for HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis, there are STIs that won’t be picked up during a routine STI test. For example, there is currently no way to measure whether or not a man has HPV, there’s no blood test. Plus, your man would first have to recognize a bump or disturbance to have a doctor check it out.
4. STIs Could Be Increasing Your Risks Of Infertility
Some STIs like HPV and Chlamydia can go dormant for years with no symptoms present .If you have an STI that hasn’t manifested itself, you could be risking your chances of getting pregnant later down the road. Chlamydia and gonorrhea among other diseases could seriously affect your chances to conceive and carry a child. It is completely curable, but it’s sometimes hard to detect. If it’s left untreated, your reproductive organs will be affected.
5. You Can Get HIV From Your Tattoo Or Piercing, But Not From A Toilet Seat
The myth of getting STIs from a toilet is officially debunked. Sexually transmitted diseases cannot live long enough on a toilet seat or outside of a body to be transmittable. You cannot get an STI from a toilet but you can get HIV from a tattoo or piercing. HIV and certain strains of hepatitis can be transferred if equipment is not property sterilized. Your piercing or tattoo parlor discards instruments used to pierce or cut skin after they are used. It is important to conduct research on business reviews and health inspections of these tattoo parlors.
6. You Can Get STIs In Your Eyes
Essentially, you can get an STI anywhere you have skin, including your eye. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia can infect your under eye tissue if semen gets in your eye or if you touch your eyes with traces of the disease on your hands. It is important to wash your hands after each sexual practice and try to avoid touching your eye until you are finished washing your hands.
Awareness is a crucial part of staying sexually healthy. Some STIs can be cured and some can’t. For those STIs that cannot be cured, there are medicines to manage the symptoms. It is important to make sure that you are paying attention to symptoms and that you are getting tested regularly even when you or your partner are not experiencing symptoms. The good news is we can protect ourselves and each other from STIs. Practicing safer sex allows you to reduce your risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases.
Featured Image via Katie Salerno Photography.