Safe sex starts with education, and, unfortunately, most people did not receive quality sex ed in school. This means that there are plenty of sexually active people who aren’t fully aware of their risks of contracting and spreading sexually transmitted infections. In the interests of penis health, sexual health and social responsibility, men should take some time to fill in the gaps of their knowledge.

Below are some common beliefs concerning sexually transmitted infections (STIs), followed by a discussion about whether each is true or false. Men can take the following like a quiz if they desire.

Beliefs

1) One can’t catch an infection from a virgin.

2) Infections can be spread by a toilet seat.

3) Not all condoms prevent STIs.

4) STIs are only spread by anal or vaginal intercourse.

5) Not all lubricants are safe to use with condoms.

6) If a partner has an STI, one can tell.

Answers

1) False! It may seem like a no-brainer - if a partner hasn’t had sex, how can he or she have a sexually transmitted infection? The key here, though, is to keep in mind that people define virginity differently. A partner may consider him/herself a virgin if he or she has had non-penetrative sex, but what about oral sex? And has there been any skin-to-skin contact in the genital region? Infections can be transmitted these ways.

2) False! At least, it’s extremely unlikely. Skin-to-skin contact and the exchange of fluids facilitate the spread of STIs, generally not a surface like a toilet seat. Unless there’s blood on the seat and/or one has an open cut on part of the body that touches the toilet seat, there’s usually nothing to worry about.

3) True! Lambskin condoms do NOT prevent the transmission of STIs. That’s because the material is porous enough to allow them through, although the condoms are effective at preventing pregnancy.

4) False! This was already partly covered in #1 above. Herpes and HPV viruses can be passed through skin-to-skin contact, and don’t require penetration. Gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HPV, HIV, hepatitis B and chlamydia can all be transmitted through oral sex.

5) True! Oil-based lubes, such as Vaseline or baby oil, can erode latex, so they should never be used in conjunction with latex condoms. Always read lubricant instructions and condom packages to be sure that one is not mixing things that shouldn’t go together.

6) False! Yes, sometimes STIs have clear and visible symptoms - bumps or lesions, for example. But often, they don’t. A person can have an STI and be asymptomatic, or may have symptoms that are not visible.

It’s a good idea for partners to talk openly and honestly about their sexual histories so they have a good idea of their risk of infection. Sexually active individuals should also be tested regularly - once a year, at least, and more frequently if an exposure took place, if one has multiple sexual partners and/or if one presents with unusual symptoms such as burning with urination, unusual discharge or visible bumps or lesions.

Along with using protection and receiving regular testing, men should take care of their penises with a comprehensive hygiene routine. Washing after sex or masturbation is always a good idea. Avoiding harsh or strongly-scented soaps is important for preventing irritation of the delicate skin.

Another step men can take to keep their manhood in peak shape is to use a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil). Skin care is important for men, too, and the penis may need some special attention due to the frictions it is subjected to, from a man’s hand to partners’ bodies. With Shea butter and vitamin E, Man1 Man Oil is a powerful moisturizer that will heal sore, chafed skin and keep the skin more resilient to friction in the future. Along with protection and proper hygiene, using a quality skin care product like this on the manhood daily will give men a leg up in the look and feel departments.