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Teen Health

Teens and STDs: Common Myths

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You can't get an STD if you only have sex once.

If you have sex once with a partner who's got chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis, you've got about a 30% chance you're going to pick up the infection that one time. That’s a very high infection rate. The consequences, particularly for young girls, are so significant that it’s important that everyone understands that once is definitely enough to transmit STDs.

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.

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