Myth busting

There are a lot of myths and misconception around sexual health so read our myth busting information and make sure you know the facts.

Myth: Getting an STI test is painful and embarrassing

  • For both men and women, tests for many STIs are quick and easy. 
  • If you have no symptoms then it involves a blood test, giving a urine sample for men and a self-taken vaginal sample for women 
  • As for the embarrassment, remember that our health professionals carry out sexual health check-ups every day.  

Myth: I can’t afford STI tests and treatments

  • All STI tests and treatment are completely free for everybody through the NHS at genitourinary medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinics. 
  • If you live in England, the National Chlamydia Screening Programme offers testing for young people under 25 at various locations around the country.
  • Depending on where you live, you may also be able to get a free home testing kit.

Myth: I don’t need to worry about STIs as treatments are so effective

  • Although STI treatments are very effective, it is always better to avoid getting an STI in the first place. Some viruses like genital herpes and HIV can be treated but remain in the body.
  • Some STIs don’t have any signs or symptoms but you can still pass them on to a partner, so it’s important to get tested if you have taken a risk.
  • Some STIs, such as gonorrhoea, are becoming resistant to antibiotics, which could make them harder to treat in future.

Myth: I can’t get an STI from oral sex

  • Although the risk of getting an STI through oral sex is generally less than vaginal or anal sex, there is still a risk. Some infections are spread more easily through oral sex than others; the most commonly passed on are herpes simplex, gonorrhoea and syphilis.
  • The best way to help protect yourself during oral sex is to use a male or female condom or a dam to cover your genital area or anus.

Myth: Only people with a lot of sexual partners get STIs

  • STIs 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.
  • And despite what a lot of people think, STIs don’t only affect young people – today’s statistics show continued increases of some infections among older age groups.

Myth: STIs will go away on their own

  • It’s 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.