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Teens and STDs: Common Myths

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If you have sex in a hot tub or pool, the chlorine or heat will kill any STD you might catch.

We don't think the temperature of the water or the dilution of the chlorine is likely to kill sperm or STDs. Again, we really recommend that if they're worried about acquiring infections, even if they're having sex in a hot tub, that they should be using condoms consistently and correctly.

Two condoms are better than one.

I think generally our society believes two is better than one. The problem is that the way condoms are designed, using two condoms at the same time could actually do more harm than good. It could cause some friction between the condoms that ... could actually cause more breakage and leakage. So we like to let everyone know, especially teens, to keep it simple. Just use one condom each and every time you have sex.

Viruses can get through some of the natural skin condoms, so they don't protect against all sexually transmitted infections. We recommend the latex -- or polyurethane, which tend to be more expensive but need to be used by people who have latex allergies.

It's important that teens recognize that the condom needs to be put on as soon as there’s an erection. Not waiting until there's been a little foreplay, because there's ejaculate that can be released that can cause both STDs and unplanned pregnancies.

Even though it's so important to use a condom consistently and correctly, many teens don't know how. Health care providers, teen clinics, and educational materials can provide information on how to use a condom properly.

You can only get the same STD once.

For the viral STDs like HIV and herpes, once you're infected you're infected for life. But we do know that you can get other strains of the same virus if you're continuing to have unprotected sex.

It’s very important for people to know, once they've had chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis and they have been treated and cured, they are now susceptible again. Especially in young girls, the second time you have chlamydia there's more damage to your reproductive tract. Once they've been treated they need to practice safe sex so that they don't get infected again.

You can only catch herpes when the other person is having an outbreak.

We used to say, it's only when you have that sore that you need to worry about transferring the herpes virus. We now have a number of studies that have shown that people still are shedding the herpes virus after the sore clears, so they can still transmit it to a partner. We also know that there are people who have never had symptoms of herpes that carry herpes. They can be shedding virus and transmitting it to a partner.

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