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STI Myths


I don’t have any symptoms, I must be fine

STI’s don’t always have symptoms, therefore if you think you may have a STI, contact your local Sexual Health Clinic to make an appointment.


STIs will go away on their own

It is very unlikely that an STI will go away by itself and if you delay seeking treatment, you risk the infection causing long-term problems.


There is also a risk of passing on the infections to partners, even if you don’t have any signs or symptoms at the time.


I can’t afford STI tests and treatments

All STI tests and treatments are completely free through the NHS at your local Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) or Sexual Health Clinics.


I can’t get an STI from oral sex

Although the risk of getting an STI through oral sex is generally less than from vaginal or anal sex, there is still a risk.  The infections most commonly passed on through oral sex are herpes simplex, gonorrhoea and syphilis.


Oral contraception can protect against STIs

Oral contraception (the pill) is only effective in preventing pregnancy.  The pill can’t stop STIs being passed on.


Male and female condoms are the only methods of contraception that will help protect you from getting and passing on STIs when you have oral, vaginal or anal sex.


Getting an STI test is painful and embarrassing

Getting tested is quick and easy.  Men pee in a pot – that’s easy-PEE-zee!

Women use a cotton bud to take a sample themselves


However, some tests might involve having a blood test or a visual examination to look for signs of infection.


I have to strip off in every appointment

If you don’t have any symptoms, you can take the test yourself.


Of course, there will be some cases where a doctor or nurse will need to examine you to determine the tests (and any treatment) you will need.  On these occasions, you can expect to be talked through what will happen and why.


Only people with a lot of sexual partners get STIs

STIs don’t care about your sexual history.  They can be passed on through unprotected (without a condom) vaginal, anal or oral sex, by genital contact and through sharing sex toys – whether you’ve had sex once or 100 times.


Despite what a lot of people think, STIs don’t only affect young people – there has been a continued increase of some infections among older age groups.


Only gay men and drug users get HIV

HIV is a virus which can be transmitted in various ways, including through sex.  It doesn’t matter what sexual orientation or gender you are, or whether you have had lots of sexual partners.  Anyone who is sexually active can be at risk of HIV.


The staff are going to judge me for what I’ve done

Nothing will shock us.  Our staff are used to having conversations about sensitive and personal issues.


Everyone is going to know I’ve been for a check-up

We will not tell anyone about your visit unless there are exceptional circumstances (safeguarding concerns, national security threat or police co-operation)