Last Updated on July 29, 2021 by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
#1 – Um, having sex can lead to STIs/STDs!
This may seem ridiculous, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember STIs/STDs being a part of sex-ed at all – maybe that was my problem to begin with – baha! I don’t know. I was either too excited to be talking about sex in general, or I wasn’t actually taught about STDs in sex-ed. A little of both might be true – I was always a very sexually-charged teenager – however, one thing’s certain, it wasn’t enough of a focal point for me to remember hearing about sexually transmitted infections and diseases.
#2 – Everything other than masturbating and clothed dry-humping can put you at risk for an STI/STD
Oral sex, fingering, vaginal sex, anal sex, the “just-the-tip” game – all of those things put someone at risk for contracting an STI/STD!
Depending on the STD, some are contracted via skin-to-skin contact, and some through contact with saliva, semen, blood, cervical/vaginal secretions, or urine (no judgements here, folks, just stating the facts). Makes you want to reach for that wacket-jacket or dildo right about now, doesn’t it?!
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#3 – STIs/STDs don’t just happen to sex workers and promiscuous people (whatever that means)
Funny? I’m being dead serious. Once I’d finally heard about STIs/STDs, I was certain it wasn’t going to happen to me…..and since I was not yet a sex worker, I figured I was good to go!
Needless to say, I’ve since been proven wrong, and my hats are off to those of the aforementioned group I so boldly stereotyped.
#4 – Grandma and Grandpa got STIs/STDs too
Even though I had not yet heard about STIs/STDs, Grandma and Grandpa knew all about them, apparently. I got a book from my uncle the other day titled “The Medical Clinics of North America” from when Grandpa was a medic in the Korean and Vietnam wars… The book’s subtitle reads, “Syphilis and Other Venereal Diseases.” It seems, back then, Syphilis was the primary focus and other STIs/STDs were just beginning to come into the forefront – at least, in so far as the military was concerned.
Interestingly, syphilis, or venereal disease (VD) has been around since my Grandparent’s Grandparent’s Grandparent’s (and then some). It was first documented in the 1400’s – initially thought to have come from the “New World” – the U.S. – as a result of Columbus, but later studies showed it was present earlier than that and during the French and Italian wars. Once called the Italian disease as the French were certain the Italians gave it to them and once called the French disease for the opposite reason, what stuck in Europe was “the French disease.”
Syphilis, back then, was different – the bacteria has since evolved – and some of the pictures one sees online are still reminiscent of when syphilis quite literally made your skin fall off. I digress.
#5 – Condoms can prevent babies AND STIs/STDs
I’ve struck gold here!
Ya’ll might wonder what kind of idiot is writing this, but I’m being completely honest. I was on birth control. If numbers 1-4 didn’t tell you something, this one should. I was certain STIs/STDs only happened to people who weren’t me, and I took my birth control pills as religiously as I should have been reading the bible/praying/[insert a low risk and more devout thing to be doing.]
#6 – When contracting an STI/STD, you’re going to be diagnosed by a doctor with a lazy eye, who’s missing half an ear and is (aptly) named Dr. Bone (you can read that story here)
No exaggeration here either – this is true. He told me my herpes outbreak was the worst case he’d ever seen before – I half-wondered whether he could see very well in the first place.
I’ve subsequently heard other people say they have had this type of experience too (not the lazy eye, missing ear, and Dr.’s name, but the “worst case I’ve ever seen before” part). It just makes me sad for everyone else enduring this horrible experience. I guess that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing!
What type of STD’s can you get through fingering? Is this only true if you have an open sore on the hand?
Fingering or hand-jobs puts a partner at risk of contracting or transmitting some common STDs like: Bacterial Vaginosis (a type of Vaginitis), Cytomegalovirus, Herpes Simplex, HPV, Mononucleosis (‘Mono’), and Pubic lice. One also does not need to have an open sore on the hand to spread an STD. (Finger condoms are great, if you’re worried about this risk – I know, not everyone carries around a finger condom in their pocket though…)
In the case of herpes, for instance, if a person with cold sores wipes their mouth with their fingers and then performs manual sex on an uninfected person, they can get infected that way. Cytomegalovirus is frequently transmitted through non-sexual contact, and thus, can be easily spread through manual sex.
Studies surrounding this are sketchy as most people have engaged in a variety of sexual activities before they are aware of an STD. Although the risk is relatively low of contracting or transmitting an STD via manual sex – as opposed to oral, anal or vaginal sex – it is certainly possible.
Thanks for the great question!
With the amount of bad information available for the public on the Internet, it is even more important nowadays to educate youths about the dangers and effects of STDs. This article serves its purpose well, as you provide info about what was missing from your sexual education. I did not learn about STDs until my college years, when we got a session full of disgusting pictures and I nearly threw up. It could have been made more subtle without the pictures, and just giving information about how NOT to contract them. I believe that in most parts of the developed world, this taboo of sex and STDs is getting broken fast, but there is still a long way to go.
@Brad Kitson –
I couldn’t agree more; we are certainly making progress, but it will be a while before we’ve truly changed education.
EE-gad, the pictures!!! I know, the pictures are over-the-top on nearly every website totting STD pictures (I can imagine the one’s in your collegiate class were similarly shocking). While I understand some cases are that severe, the pictures do far more harm than good as the majority of cases (in the developed world) are much much milder. What’s more, the STD pictures alone do not properly educate people looking into STDs: how they can be contracted, how they can be avoided, the most common STD symptom is no symptom at all, etc., etc. It does those living with an STI/STD a disservice as well as those wishing to be prepared to engage in safe-sex practices a disservice. All around, it can be disappointing.
However, we are making progress, and I am hopeful knowing change happens – slowly. Now, there are a handful of very reputable websites out there teaching sex education how I wished it had been taught during my high school or college years! So, while one must weed through the plethora of crap to find the good stuff, it’s out there….and the more of them there are, the harder it will be to maintain the crap without significant backlash. Strength in numbers! 🙂
Thanks for your comment!!