Did you spend all of high school thinking you could get herpes from a hot tub like we did? There are lots of rumors about sex that you hear through the grapevine in your adolescent and teen years. And unless you go out of your way to hunt down the facts, these myths tend to stick with you. You can go your whole life believing that you can’t get pregnant on your period, just because Lexi from junior year algebra told you so.
When it comes to STIs, knowing what’s what is super important. There’s so much misinformation out there, and it often keeps people from getting tested when they should. We’re here to bust some common myths for you, so you can stay on top of your sexual health.
Myth #1: I don’t have any symptoms, so I don’t need to get tested.
Even if your labia appears to be in optimal health and you haven’t noticed any symptoms, it’s still important to get tested regularly. Lots of STIs can be asymptomatic and fly under the radar for months (or even years). So, even the healthiest people could be carrying an infection or disease and passing it to their partners unintentionally. This is why physicians and the CDC recommend that most peopleget tested at least annually, or more frequently depending on your sex life. If you have questions about when you should get tested, here’s a simple guide.
Myth #2: I don’t need to get tested because we’re monogamous.
If you’re monogamous and asymptomatic, it’s easy to assume you don't need to get tested. But STIs have an incubation period, which means while many STIs show up on tests in the first week or so after an infection, some can take several weeks. This is why it’s smart to get tested when you first decide to have unprotected sex or become monogamous with a new partner, and then get tested again after a few months. Just think—when you know where you both stand, you can enjoy sex all the more because you won’t be stressing.
Myth #3: I’ve already been treated for an STI, so I can’t get it again.
If you’ve had a curable STI before and you treated it successfully, you might think I’m freeeee forever, I’m immune! But with most STIs, it's possible to get reinfected. This is why it’s important to share your STI status with your hookup or partner and for both of you to be tested and treated for an existing STI before having sex again.
Myth #4: I can’t have an STI because we used protection, or we only had sex once.
It’s a harsh reality: No one is perfect, including the great Trojan horse. Even if you use condoms whenever you get down, you’re still at risk for STIs. Vaginal penetration isn’t the only way to catch something. Oral and anal sex can transmit several STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. Plus, shit happens. Condoms break. Precum leaks. Fluids get swapped in all sorts of ways when you’re in the throes of love. So, even if you’re the most responsible human ever and you wrap up every time you get down, it’s still a good idea to get tested regularly.
Myth #5: I’m too old for an STI.
STIs aren’t just for teens and twenty-somethings. You may be more informed than your teenage self, but STIs can affect people of any age. In fact, STI rates are increasing across all age groups in the U.S. Since middle-aged and elderly people aren’t considered high risk, medical providers don’t often bring up testing with them. But it’s just as important for older generations to stay tuned into their sexual health, especially if they’re non-monogamous or having sex without protection.
Last thing—STIs can be scary, and yes, getting tested can be daunting. But if you’re feeling nervous about getting answers, just know that you’re not alone, and a positive test result is hardly the end of the world. Most STIs are curable, and even the incurable ones are manageable and won’t get in the way of having a great life. There are many treatment options out there, and so much support to be had in the event that you are diagnosed.
Knowing where you stand isn’t just great for your sexual health—it’s great for your mental health too. Knowledge is power. And a little peace of mind goes a long way, especially when it comes to your pleasure. What’s hotter than worry-free sex?! Nothing. So if you’re ready to get tested and want to make it easy, check out Fig’s at-home STI testing kits or make an appointment with a healthcare professional.
Want be more STI-literate?
Read A practical guide for disclosing your STI status
Fig makes staying on top of your sexual health easy. With their at-home STI testing kits, you can skip the hassle, awkwardness, and surprise bills—and hit the sheets worry-free.