Even though sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common, we rarely learn about them in school. While Singapore may be a conservative country and people aren’t open with talking about sex and intimate activities, the rate of STD each year continues to rise and young adults (aged 20-30) usually have the highest incidence rate. But of course, STD can be contracted at any age by people who have unprotected sex and have multiple sexual partners.
STDS are infections that are transmitted through sexual intercourse or close body contact with an infected person. They can be transmitted through body fluids (through unprotected sexual contact), intimate skin to skin contact or contaminated needles and blood transfusions.
STDs can be caused by various agents such as:
- Bacteria (syphilis, gonorrhoea, Chlamydia infections)
- Virus (genital herpes, genital warts, hepatitis A, B, and C, Human papillomavirus (HPV), Human immunodeficiency virus type (HIV) and AIDs infection
- Fungi (vaginal candidiasis)
- Protozoa (trichomoniasis)
- Parasites (scabies, pubic lice infestation)
In Singapore, talking about STD can still be sort of taboo, but the modern age has made Singaporeans more open about the topic. However, with all the available information on STD, there are still a lot of misconceptions and myths about the illness. This is why in this article, an expert from DB Medical, a speciality STD Clinic in Singapore, debunks the common myths about STDs to help raise awareness about the disease.
Common myths about STD
When patients come into the clinic, most of them have a lot of questions and misconceptions about STDs. Here, I share 5 of the common myths and debunk them with researched-based facts.
Myth #1: You can get STD from sharing food, utensils and toilet seats
Fact: As suggested by the name, an STD is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse or contact. By unprotected, it means having sex without using barrier contraception such as condoms.STDs can only be transmitted when there is direct sexual contact with an infected person through body fluids like semen and vaginal fluids. STD agents cannot survive outside the human body; hence, it is not possible to contract STD on environmental surfaces like toilet seats, utensils and even food.
Myth #2:You cannot get STD from oral or anal sex
Fact: All forms of sex (oral, anal, vaginal or even just wet kissing) can cause STD transmission. The STD agents are microscopic and can enter the body through very small cuts and tears in the mouth and anus. Especially when you have existing sores on these body parts, the risk of transmission is high. This is why, I cannot stress enough the importance of wearing a condom each time you have sex, including oral and anal sex. In Singapore, there are available condoms for both men and women. Consistent and appropriate use of condoms significantly reduces STD contraction and transmission.
Myth #3: STDs are inherited from parents
Fact: While this misconception has some truth to it, it is not entirely 100% correct. STDs are acquired and therefore cannot be inherited or caused by genetics. However, some STDs can be passed infections from the mother to the child during pregnancy. HIV is one example, it is a form of STD and can be passed on during pregnancy. While HIV does not have a known cure yet, other STDs contracted during pregnancy can be treated to prevent passing on the infection to the baby.
When you feel that you might have contracted STD while pregnant, I recommend that you seek medical attention right away. Early detection of STDs in pregnant women means early treatment and a lesser chance of passing on the infection to the baby inside the womb.
Myth #4: STDs usually go away on their own
Fact: It is very unlikely that STDs will go away on their own. When left unchecked and untreated, STDs can worsen and cause serious and long-term consequences that can affect fertility and over-health. Untreated bacterial infections such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and can lead to severe pelvic pain, infertility and ectopic pregnancies due to the blockage of the fallopian tubes. Certain strands of HPV can also cause cervical and throat cancers.
This is why it is why early detection of STD is important so that appropriate treatment can be administered right away to stop the infection and prevent it from spreading and causing more problems. STDs are usually treated with prescription medication (antibiotics, antiviral and antifungal).
Although there are medications that can treat STDs, not all STDs can be treated. For patients with HIV, there are antiretroviral medications that reduce the amount of virus in the blood but cannot completely cure the patient. Also, genital herpes cannot be eliminated from the body and you’ll have to get antiviral medications to control herpes outbreaks.
Myth #5: Once you’ve had STD, there’s no chance of getting it again in the future
Fact: Having an STD doesn’t make you immune to it. If you’re not careful and continue to practice unprotected sex and or have multiple sexual partners, then the chance of getting STD is still high. You can even have multiple STDs at the same time. This is why I always advise my patients to practice safe sex to prevent STDs. Complete abstinence is the only way that guarantees zero STD infection. If you are sexually active, then you should be responsible to protect yourself and your partner from STDs.
While some STDs have very visible symptoms like swelling, sores, itching and pain in the genital and mouth area, some STDs do not show any symptoms and you might not know that you already have it. So, when you have had casual sex and didn’t use a condom, then get tested for STDs right away.
In Singapore, there are speciality clinics like DB clinic that can help you manage STDs in every step of the way from screening, treatment, basic contraception, and consultation, with full confidentiality. There is nothing to be ashamed of when having STD and seeking treatment is the right thing to do.
DB Medical: Women's & Men's Health Clinic
290 Orchard Rd, #14-10 Paragon Medical Centre,
+65 6733 7122