5 Myths about STIs and STDs - Famasi Africa

5 Myths about STIs and STDs - Famasi Africa
Photo by Fusion Medical Animation / Unsplash

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are something most people don't like to talk about. Whether a result of discomfort or lack of information, human sexuality and its associated risks aren't always discussed as openly as you might expect.

Many people falsely think they’re invincible and will never contract a disease like chlamydia, herpes, HIV, or other forms of STIs. The truth is STDs are everywhere — and the only way to protect yourself is by having adequate knowledge.

In this article, we'll discuss 5 common misconceptions about STDs and the facts you should know instead.

STD myth: If you don't have symptoms, you don't have an STD
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

1: If you don't have symptoms, you don't have an STD

It's easy to believe that if you're in a monogamous relationship and neither of you has any obvious symptoms, then you can't possibly be infected by an STD. But that's not the case. Most people with STIs are asymptomatic, which means they don't show any signs or symptoms at all. The only way to know for sure is to get tested regularly.

It's also important to keep in mind that there are several "window periods" when someone can be infected with an STD, but they might not yet show any symptoms — or when they have a low level of infection which the test doesn't pick up.

2. STD symptoms are unmistakable

Many people falsely assume that symptoms of STDs are hard to miss or impossible to confuse with other conditions. That's not always the case.

Certain STDs, like chlamydia and gonorrhoea, often show no symptoms at all — or symptoms so mild people don't notice them or attribute them to something else, like a bladder infection or flu-like illness.

Even when symptoms do present themselves, they can be similar to other conditions, such as yeast infections or allergic reactions. This confusion makes it very important for everyone to see a doctor for regular STD testing, even if you're not experiencing any symptoms.

A medical personnel collecting blood sample with injection from a patient
A medical personnel collecting blood sample with injection from a patient

3. If I’ve been tested and treated for an STD in the past, I don’t need to worry about them anymore

This is not true! If you’ve been tested and treated for an STD in the past, that doesn’t mean you can’t get it again. You should be tested regularly, especially if you have multiple partners.

For a fact, many STDs are curable with antibiotics or other treatments. Even if a disease cannot be cured, there are often ways to manage the symptoms and live a healthy life.

So, it is advisable to practice safe sex as you can easily get infected if you don't.

STD myth: STDs are only spread through intercourse
Photo by Becca Tapert / Unsplash

4. STDs only spread through intercourse

This is absolutely false! Many STDs can be spread without sexual intercourse. Oral sex, anal sex, and skin-to-skin contact, like rubbing vulvas together or fingering, can all spread STDs.

Skin-to-skin contact can cause some STDs, such as HPV and herpes. You don’t have to have sex to get an STD.

A man and woman locking their index fingers
A man and woman locking their index fingers

5. If my partner has an STD, I would know it

The only way to know for sure if someone has an STD is to get tested. Some STDs may cause sores or other symptoms, but many do not.

Some people don’t show any symptoms and still have an STD. They can pass the disease on without ever knowing it. You can’t tell by looking at someone whether they have an STD.

Signs to look out for when an STI is being healed
Photo by CDC / Unsplash

Signs to look out for when an STI is being healed

Some of the signs to expect when you're healing from an STI are:

  • Healing sores: The most common sign to look out for is the healing of the sores. Sores that are present in a person with an STI will normally heal within a few days after commencing treatment.
  • Disappearing symptoms: Another sign is that the symptoms that were present when you had an STI will disappear. These include pain during urination, foul-smelling odors from the vagina, and discharge from various body parts.
  • The fever you might be experiencing before will also reduce.

It is important that you keep taking medicine even if your symptoms go away. If you stop treatment early, the infection can still be in your body.


Sexually transmitted diseases exist. They're serious, and can be deadly. Therefore, they should be taken seriously.

However, misconceptions and myths should be avoided in order to prevent the spread of false information about sexually transmitted diseases.

STD testing has come a long way over the years and is more accurate than ever. But there are still some gaps in detection, so it's always better to err on the side of caution and get tested for the most common infections regularly, even if you feel fine and don't notice anything unusual.

Speak with a Care Specialist if you're sexually active to schedule routine STD screenings. You can schedule a free appointment with a medical practitioner here.