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You use condoms. You sleep with guys who run in the same social circle as you, so you know who they have slept with. You think you’re being safe. You think you fear what you should fear, and are taking all the right precautions. But, sadly, there are a lot of myths that somehow survived through high school, through college and even into adulthood about sexual health. Like these:

If my test is clean, I don’t have Herpes

Believe it or not, even though Herpes is such an easily spreadable virus, it is not tested for in most STD tests. Most people who get clear test results rely on those as “proof” that the little sore on their mouth is not herpes. But actually, it’s estimated that 50%-80% of North Americans have either type 1 or type 2 or Herpes, so be sure to ask for this test specifically the next time you go in for a general STD screening.

I can get Herpes from a toilet seat

The Herpes virus is extremely fragile and cannot survive outside of the human body for long—it can diminish within seconds and dries out as soon as it is exposed to air. There has yet to be a proven case of someone contracting Herpes from a toilet seat.

Condoms Protect Against All STIs

While you should definitely use protection with new partners whose sexual health you are not familiar with (sorry for the after school special), there is unfortunately little evidence that shows that condoms can protect against genital warts.

Most STD’s have obvious symptoms

I’m just going to say it: men believe this far more than women do. You’ve probably heard a guy say, “everything looks fine down there.” But, it doesn’t matter how anything looks. (Of course, if it looks weird, get it checked out!) Many STD’s never show symptoms, clear up on their own, but leave you with long-term health problems. Others do show symptoms, but only after having been in your system for months if not years, at which point the risks to your health could be severe.

I can’t get pregnant while on my period

It is rare but definitely possible, especially for women with particularly long periods that overlap with the beginning of their ovulation. Sperm can survive inside the human body for up to 72 hours so, if you have intercourse towards the end of your period, and your ovulation begins right after that sperm, has plenty of time to work its magic.

Women have to get a pap once they turn 18

Remember in senior year of high school when girls would subtly slip away for a mid-day doctor’s appointment and whisper about it later? That’s not necessary anymore. Research has found a pap smear isn’t necessary until a girl has been sexually active for three years, or until she turns 21. Why? Most incidents of HPV clear themselves up within three years. It is only the ones that would stick around longer than that that one needs to be concerned about, and those would show up in a later pap.

Taking the morning after pill is the same as getting an abortion

The most prominent fact that proves this myth wrong is that, if you take the morning after pill once you are in fact pregnant, it won’t make have the slightest effect. Many websites fail to mention the difference between the abortion pill and the morning after pill, meanwhile studies have found that 30% of sexually active adolescents believe the two to be one and the same.

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