Welcome to the health spot. For today’s issue I was joined by Irene McHugh, Nurse from The Student Health Unit at NUI Galway to address sexual health myths. There can be quite a bit of misunderstandings and we hope to clear up some common misconceptions.
I am on the pill so I cannot get an STI
This is a myth. The pill will only help prevent pregnancy if taken correctly, it has no protection against any STI’s.
Using two condoms for extra protection
No, the best way to help prevent STI’s and pregnancy is to use one condom and to use it correctly.
You cannot get STIs if you do not have penetrative sex
That is incorrect because you can obtain certain sexual infections from skin-to-skin contact. These might include herpes, HSV that both males or females can contract. HPV also, which can lead to genital warts also from skin-to-skin contact. And you have also other skin infections like scabies.
There are no treatments for STI’s
That is not true. There are treatments for all STI’s, that be antibiotics or treatment in the hospital. It could be creams or medication. If anyone is ever in doubt, we always recommend getting STI screening even if it is just routine with no concerns or no symptoms or if they had any STI symptoms.
Withdrawal method protects from pregnancy and STI’s
This is false, some may use this method, but it must be done correctly. It is not an effective form of contraception because sometimes the male may have pre-ejaculate which can contain sperm so we would not recommend it. We would not advocate the withdrawal method.
Does the morning after pill have dangerous consequences
No, the main thing people are told is that it may not always work. It is not to be used as a regular form of contraception. Some people might call it ‘plan b.’ It is important that you get it straight away after unprotected sex or maybe a missed pill. You can obtain it from a pharmacist or your GP. It is free of charge with a medical card in the pharmacy also. You can get one for up to 5 days post unprotected sex. It will only protect you from what has already happened.
Taking the pill causes weight gain
I suppose with any contraception there might be the risk of side effects. Sometimes girls may be concerned about weight gain, but I do not think that you should avoid going on it if you do need regular contraception. The doctors are always very good, you can talk and discuss this. It is trial and error, it might suit your friend, but it might not suit you. If you find yourself gaining weight with it, get back to us and we can try another pill or other form of contraception