We have reviewed comments/questions from our SHARE presentations and found there were some common FAQs (frequently asked questions). Here are our responses.
Q: Can I get an STI from masturbation?
A: STIs are transmitted from person to person and if you don’t have one it is not possible to give it to yourself. There is no risk associated with self-masturbating. However there is a very low risk of getting STIs through mutual masturbation. Herpes and genital warts can be passed through hand and genital contact with open sores or cuts.Hepatitis B and HIV can also be caught through hand or finger cuts that come into contact with infected sperm, vaginal fluids or blood. www.health.gov.au
Caution note: you can train yourself to respond to this form of stimulation but it may impact future relationships with a spouse where sex isn’t just about you and your gratification. Sex is meant to bring people together in every way – physically, emotionally, relationally – that doesn’t happen with this form of stimulation.
Q: Where can I get tested for STIs?
A: The SHARE program is located in Oakland County, Michigan. Each county has a public health office and testing can be done there. There may be a cost associated to the testing. A Dr. office can also do STI testing.
General Hours of Operation for Oakland County Public Health *** $5.00 per visit
Monday - Friday: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Clinic Hours of Operation:
Monday: Noon - 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday - Friday: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Health Division: North Oakland Health Center
County Service Center
1200 North Telegraph, Building 34 East
Pontiac, Michigan, USA, 48341
Health Division: South Oakland Health Center
27725 Greenfield Road
Southfield, Michigan, USA, 48076
Q: Where do I go if I think I’m pregnant?
A: Your Dr.’s office or pregnancy center can confirm a pregnancy. Going to a pregnancy center will also provide you with the support you will need throughout the pregnancy and beyond. There are lists of centers that can be found here which will provide the support you’ll need. www.optionline.org, 1-800-712-HELP or text 313131
Q: How do I get tested for a STD?
A: All sexually active people should get tested for STDs on a regular basis. (especially since most of them don’t have outward symptoms) Testing is quite simple – depending on the disease they consider you at risk for. If you feel nervous about getting checked for STDs, take a few deep breaths and try to relax. You may be shy about having doctors and nurses look at your genitals. The tests are usually quick, and it may help to remember that the nurses and doctors are there to help you, and do this kind of test all the time. The doctor or nurse will probably ask for you to pee in a cup. They can look under a microscope at the organisms in your urine. Some STI’s are diagnosed by taking a swab of the vagina or penis for secretions. Other STI’s can be diagnosed by looking at the sores or bumps on your genitals. Some STI’s are diagnosed by testing your blood.
It is very important to note that if you have a positive test for any STDs your partner(s) have to be tested as well. If you take the antibiotic and are cleared of the disease but go back to your partner and they haven’t been tested and treated you WILL get the disease again.
Better to go through testing than that deal with the disease later on and the consequences of them.
Q: I thought safe sex was using a condom but now am questioning that. Am I not safe with a condom?
A: Great question! We will respond with another one – when you are safe is there any risk or danger? What a condom does is reduce the risk for pregnancy and also reduces the risk for sexually transmitted infections. Reduction of risk is not the same as elimination. In the summer of 2013 the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) came out and indicated that condoms have an 18% failure rate for pregnancy. That doesn’t sound safe to me. For birth control see the chart under that section on our site. For STI protection a condom will reduce your risk of exposure but needs to be used for all activities to be most effective. “The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual intercourse, or to be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and you know is uninfected. For persons whose sexual behaviors place them at risk for STDs, correct and consistent use of the male latex condom can reduce the risk of STD transmission. However, no protective method is 100 percent effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STD.” (CDC)
Q: If it burns when I pee does that mean that I have an STD?
A: If you have not been sexually active (no genital contact with another person) then you cannot have a sexually transmitted disease. If you have been sexually active then testing is very important. Many STDs (most of them!) are asymptomatic – no symptoms so unless you are tested you won’t know you have one. If you have symptoms and are sexually active then testing is very important. A Dr.’s office or public health office can do this testing for you and it’s a simple procedure.
Q: How many kinds of STDs are there?
A: There are at least 30 types of STDs and many of them have multiple strains. In the 60s there were only 2 primary ones (syphilis and gonorrhea which were both treatable), today we have 2 categories of STDs. They are grouped into bacterial (treatable and curable) and viral (treatable but no cure to date). Therefore someone who has Herpes at 15 will have the virus for their lifetime.
Q: Since I’m young, I don’t really have to worry about these diseases right?
A: Actually since you’re young you have more to be concerned about. In the 60’s there were 1 in 32 people with an STI, in the 80’s it was 1 in 18 and in 2010 the CDC came out and announced that 1 in 4 young people (15 – 24) today are dealing with at least one STI. Our youth are 25% of the sexually active population yet carry 50% of the diseases. The younger you are when you begin having sex the more risk you have since it is more likely that you will have multiple partners. The more partners – the higher risk for transmission.