Top 10 Myths About Safe Sex and Sexual Health

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MYTH: If you get the HPV shot you’re safe from cervical cancer

Gardasil and Cervarix are cervical cancer vaccines that block the two types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that most frequently cause cervical cancer. Gardasil also protects against two types that cause the majority of genital warts. But about 30% of cervical cancers will not be prevented by these vaccines, so it’s important for all women, whether they’ve gotten the shot or not, to continue having regular Pap tests.

Gardasil was approved for boys and men in 2009 to reduce the risk of developing genital warts. This may also help prevent the spread of cancer-causing HPV to their female partners.

MYTH: Douching is a healthy way to clean the vagina

The vagina is self-cleansing, and douching actually causes more harm than good, according to The National Women’s Health Information Center. The natural bacteria found in the vagina help keep it clean and healthy, and douching can disturb that balance and spread vaginal infections into the fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries. Additionally, douching does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy. In fact, douching makes it easier for a woman to get pregnant because it pushes semen farther up into the vagina and cervix.

Regular washing with warm water and mild, unscented soaps will help keep the outside of the vagina clean. Try to avoid scented tampons, pads, powders, and sprays, which can increase the chance of vaginal infections.

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