Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Shuvani Sanyal, MD
It’s STD Awareness Month!
Today’s myth: ‘The most common STD symptoms are no symptoms’ and why that’s so true!
We’re implementing The STI Project’s month-long myth busting series: So True, So False! Yeah, we think we’re as cool as E! Promoting awareness, education, and acceptance doesn’t always have to be super-serious.
Really, though, these myths often perpetuate big problems, because they keep people from getting tested, talking to partners, practicing safer-sex, and all around being conscientious about their sexual health. So, this is kinda serious stuff too!
For our ‘So True, So False’ series, we’re doing the research and debunking some of the common myths we hear all of the time about STDs, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
The Most Common STD Symptoms are No Symptoms
Most people think they’ll know if they have an STD – that their genitals will have blisters, they’ll be itchy, experiencing discharge, or any other number of signs and symptoms which can be present if you’ve contracted an STD.
That’d be great, actually! If everyone knew when they contracted an STD, there’d be less STDs overall, because people would get tested/treated right away, and people would know who to stay away from, because there’d be obvious sores and/or warning signs.
This is very common misconception, and therein lies the problem…
You probably won’t know.
One of the main reasons there are so many new STD infections each year (20 million in the United States alone) is because most people have no idea they have an STD, they’re not getting tested, because they’re not experiencing symptoms, and then they’re passing their infection to others.
Unless you’re getting tested on the regular, you probably won’t know when you contract an STD, because the most common STD symptoms are no symptoms at all.
Asymptomatic STDs still cause problems.
Even the STDs which are known for causing bumps or spots, like herpes or HPV, for example, are commonly asymptomatic as well. All STDs are frequently asymptomatic (present and transmittable but exhibiting little to no signs or symptoms). Even when signs are present, they are often so mild, they get easily missed or mistaken for something else.
It’s actually more common to have an STD without experiencing symptoms than it is to have one and know you need to get checked out and/or tested.
That’s also why as many as 15% of infertility cases are the result of an untreated STD. It’s not because the individual had something wrong and just ignored it. Rather, the person didn’t get tested, because they didn’t notice anything wrong.
With a lot of STDs, take untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea, for example, one often doesn’t notice there’s a problem or experience obvious symptoms until the infection has caused irreparable damage internally.
Even though a person may be asymptomatic, they can still transmit the infection to others.
Do yourself a favor, and get tested even if you’re not experiencing symptoms. The most common STD symptoms are no symptoms at all, and the only way to know for sure is to be diligent about your sexual health.
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Have you heard this before? How did you learn about this myth and what was your opinion before reading this post? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!