STI and STD Part III: Misconceptions and clichés

Author: KatKristall
Kinky Life | Recommendations

Even in a community like ours that speaks openly about sexuality and safety, there are still major misconceptions about sexually transmitted diseases, or sexually transmitted diseases. And yet anyone can get one, because in BDSM the possibilities of infection are particularly numerous through a wider range of practices. The best prevention is still education. Time to clear up a few misunderstandings and clichés.

It scratches, it stinks, it sticks

The german band “Die Ärzte” have already sang that and there is certainly something to it, but not all sexually transmitted diseases are the same. Since the word is very unspecific in German, doctors (i.e. the real ones) differentiate between sexually transmitted infections (“sexually transmitted infection”, “STI” for short) and sexually transmitted diseases (“sexually transmitted diseases”, “STD” for short). Because not all infections lead to an illness and not every illness begins with an infection. However, sexually transmitted diseases are usually preceded by an infection. You can find an overview of the most common STIs and STDs and how to recognize and treat them in Part II of this series. You can find the most important transmission routes in Part I.

1. Sexual diseases are rare!

Incorrect! The fact is that one in four adults in Germany has already had or has a sexually transmitted disease. In 2019, the WHO even described sexually transmitted diseases as a “silent and dangerous epidemic”. According to a report by the institution, more than a million people worldwide are infected with an STI every day. According to a recent estimate, there are 376 million new infections with trichomonas, chlamydia, gonococci or syphilis every year among 15 to 49 year olds. Some people become infected with several pathogens several times a year. The statistics do not take HIV into account.

2. If I had an STI/STD, I would notice!

Also wrong. Many STDs have no visible or only non-specific symptoms. Genital herpes or HPV, diseases that one in three adults have already had, are often completely without any symptoms. 50 percent of men infected with chlamydia show no symptoms at all; for women the figure is as high as 75 percent. HIV, gonorrhea and hepatitis B can also persist for years without symptoms. There is no rash, discharge, odor or itching here.

3. I go to the gynecologist, donate blood or have had a blood test. Surely they would diagnose that?

During a gynecological examination, only the external appearance is looked at and a cytological smear, also known as a Pap test, is taken. This is an early detection test for cervical cancer due to an HPV infection. Unless requested, no further illnesses or infections will be examined, not even a fungal infection. And even if the HPV test comes back positive, there will be no notification the first time because the infection must have existed for at least six months to be considered a concern. Other STIs have to be specifically tested; chlamydia is covered by the health insurance up to age 25 (depending on your insurance provider).

A blood test done by a doctor also does not look for sexually transmitted infections. When you donate blood, the blood is tested for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, but you are only informed if the result is positive. Sometimes you have to ask extra.

4. I’m a virgin / don’t have sex / only have one partner. So I can’t get infected.

Incorrect! There are diseases that are passed on through saliva, oral sex or anal sex. HPV, for example, can be transmitted through all mucous membranes, including through kissing, fingers, hand and blow jobs or sweat. Herpes and hepatitis can even be passed on through sharing a razor, skin contact and saliva. Accordingly, also through unclean toys, surfaces that have not been cleaned and other equipment.

This means that you can also be infected if you only have or have had sex with one partner. In addition, there are the people with whom you have shared manual or oral sexual experiences, whom you have kissed, with whom you have shared food or drinks, whose clothes or towels you have used or after whom you have gone to the toilet. Indirectly, you also have contact with everyone with whom your partner has shared the same experiences.

5. I only have sexual acts with a condom, so nothing can happen to me.

A condom only stops sperm and secretions and therefore only the diseases that can be transmitted through them. But as already mentioned, there are numerous other routes of infection such as oral sex and manual actions, kissing, improperly cleaned toys and more.

In addition, bacteria are significantly smaller than sperm, so there is a residual risk even with condoms. However, they are still one of the safest ways to have protected sex.

6. STDs are curable and they will not have a lasting impact on my life

This is also unfortunately wrong. While everyone now knows that HIV cannot be cured, this also applies to genital herpes, HPV and forms of hepatitis. Many bacterial, fungal or other parasitic infections can be easily treated and cured.

Others, however, can have lasting consequences for you and your partners. Chlamydia, for example, can cause scarring of the ovaries and even infertility. Untreated gonorrhea can lead to infection of the heart and nervous system or cause miscarriage. Syphilis can even lead to death if left untreated.

In addition to the long-term dangers such as illness and death, as well as the many risks to fetuses, many of these sexually transmitted diseases can also acutely lead to unpleasant symptoms such as inflammation of the genitals, pain and burning when touched, sexual intercourse and urination. Experiences that you can and should really save yourself.

Conclusion: Play it safe with regular tests

STIs and STDs are unpredictable. Safe sex, mindfulness and hygiene reduce the risk of infection, but there is always a residual risk and the possibility that such an illness will be symptom-free and therefore remain undetected. For your own safety and that of all current and future participants, regular testing is recommended. These can now be done at home for just a few euros.

This was Part III of the Deviance series on sexually transmitted infections. Also interesting:

STI and STD Part I: how they’re transmitted
STI and STD Part II: The 8 most common
STI and STD Part IV: risks of infection in BDSM
STIs and STDs Part V: safer sex and BDSM

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