8 More Myths About Birth Control and STIs
There are far more than seven, as I found.
#8: Douches have some legitimate uses.
Douches were invented to clean up vaginas and were marketed as contraceptives. We now know that vaginas clean themselves just fine and that douching doesn't prevent pregnancy. The only remaining legitimate use for douches is for the word itself — as an insult, its namesake is such such harmful, unnecessary product.
#7: Nonoxyl-9 protects against HIV infection.
Nonoxyl-9 is an ingredient found in some spermicides and lubricants. For a while, it was thought to be a wonder substance that only prevented pregnancy, but also helped to prevent the transmission of HIV and other STIs. The opposite turned out to be true: N-9 is a detergent that irritates the delicate mucus membranes of anuses and vaginas and actually makes transmission more likely. It also doesn't prevent pregnancy. Oops.
#6: While straight people can contract it, HIV is still a bigger problem in the gay male community.
Myths about "bug-chasers" notwithstanding, American men who have sex with men are likely the most aware community when it comes to HIV risk. It shows in gay porn, where condom use is standard; in the world of straight porn, condoms are not really common. In the United States, women (especially minority women) represent the fastest-growing group in terms of new HIV infections. Worldwide, women comprise half of all people living with HIV and the vast majority of them contract it from heterosexual intercouse.
#5: There is a minuscule chance of contracting HIV through oral-oral contact due to the risk presented by open sores.
The one study that allegedly proved this is kind of funny, because the person listed the person from whom she contracted HIV as a sex partner, not just someone she kissed.. The HIV transmission between them may have occurred any number of ways, from a condom slippage to blood on a shared razor or toothbrush. While theoretically possible, then, there has never been a documented case of someone who is HIV negative merely deep kissing an HIV positive person and contracting HIV as a result.
#4: The Pill "regulates" your period.
The bleeding you get when you stop taking hormone pills is not a period, it is bleeding caused by the hormonal changes from the cessation of pill-taking. As the Pill halts ovulation, you're stopping the bodily process that necessitates a period in the first place.
#3: The 98% failure rate on condoms means that 2% of condoms will fail.
This is clarification of a demystification from my prior piece. A 2% failure rate on condoms means that of 100 couples who use condoms as birth control, 2 will get pregnant within a year.
#2: If you get HPV, it can cause genital warts and cancer.
The key here is the word "and." There are over 40 strains of HPV. That is why Gardasil, while definitely helpful, cannot protect against all strains of HPV — there are simply too many. The ones that cause warts are distinct from the ones that can lead to cervical cancer; however, you could be infected with different strains that have different effects, including one or more that could cause cancer and one or more that could cause warts.
#1: HSV-1 is oral herpes, while HSV-2 is genital, and the latter is worse.
Herpes wasn't considered an STI until relatively recently, with the distinctions between the two types accompanying its stigmatization. They are two strains of the same virus and either can infect either mouths or genitals. Furthermore, HSV-1 is actually more potentially harmful to the infected person. Neither is generally deadly, however. Another fun fact: HSV can infect mucus membranes other than mouths and genitals, such as anuses. Play safe, kids.
Vintage condoms image via.