STI Photos of Doom *GRAPHIC*

I hate STI images in sexuality/health education textbooks. Every image you have ever seen of STI afflicted genitals are the worst cases encountered by doctors. Some argue that we need to show these images so that people understand the dangers associated with unprotected sex but I say cauliflower dick pics do more harm than good. Some very NSFW photos will illustrate my point nicely. (Do not click through if you are squeamish about STI photos.)Imagine yourself in a Human Sexuality course. Today’s topic is HSV (herpes) and the following images burst onto the projector:

Extreme HSV infection on a Penis
Extreme HSV infection on a Vulva

Scary, huh? Now imagine you wake up one day to find a small painful blister on your junks. You get freaked out, you heart races and your mind goes into cognitive dissonance mode. You think back to your class or Google STI images and none of them look like what you see on your own genitals. Eventually the blister goes away on its own and you mentally deny anything was there in the first place.

The big problem with these STI photos of doom is that they focus on diseased genitals instead of infection symptoms.The more responsible approach would be to simply show a single blister on the skin.

HSV Blister

This photo is a more accurate representation that enables people to recognize STI symptoms. Instead of insanely inflamed penises and vulvas, the focus in this photo is the blister itself, evidence that something is going on with the body and needs medical attention.

Genital warts are another STI that gets the medical fetishization treatment. Most photos look like a hybrid between broccoli and human genitals. Even I, after years of desensitization to sexual topics, feel the ick factor bubble up when I see these pictures.

Sci-Fi pic? No, extreme genital warts infection.
Extreme Genital Wart infection on Vulva
Extreme Genital Wart infection on a Vulva

The vast majority of STIs do not look like these pictures. The medical community has a strange preoccupation with atypical cases and photograph any extreme diversions or medical cases but fail to document accurate examples of STI symptoms. For the sake of comparison, here is a more common case of genital warts:

This is your dick. This is your dick with genital warts.
What genital warts really look like.

The two extreme cases started like the photo above. Most people ignore symptoms at the early stage because they only know what the most extreme, advanced symptoms look like and willfully ignore the mild symptoms.

I spoke to the professor who I work for and expressed my concerns with the photographs he shows in class. He agreed completely and told me he avoids showing syphilis photographs: they look like a still from a horror film.

Syphilis Chancre on a Penis
Syphilis Chancre on a Penis
Syphilis Chancre on Vulva
Syphilis Chancre on a Vulva

A chancre is evidence of the primary stage of syphilis and appears at the bacterial point of entry. These photos show good examples.

What we show in classrooms is very, very different.

Extreme Syphilis Chancre on Penis

The message delivered by the extreme photos is simply DOOM DOOM DOOM instead of “This is an STI symptom. Be aware and get checked often. Most STIs are curable/treatable. Go science.”

In my ideal sex education world, we would show images of chancres, warts, blisters and discharge without focusing on the diseased genitals. STIs happen and have been happening since time immemorial just like, *gasp*, any other type of illness, disease or infection that can befall a human body. I need to start a petition to the organizations providing images to sexuality education textbooks/websites. Stop the madness!

10 thoughts on “STI Photos of Doom *GRAPHIC*”

  1. This really happens folks. My penis wasn’t as bad as this guy’s but would have surely gotten that eaten up if I hadn’t sought treatment. The sad part is the damage is irreversible. The redness and pain will go away but the tissue doesn’t come back.

  2. I’m practically inactively sexually. When I do have a sexual encounter I’m paranoid for about two weeks after. I literally fall apart mentally when I see anything unusual on my pecker because I don’t know what the early stages of any of these infections look like, so if I see something different I assume it’s going to turn into “extreme genital warts infection” – and that’s because of the pictures I’ve seen. I believe the reason that has been done is because of the conservative rule of the last few generations (i.e. don’t fornicate).

  3. i still freak out 2 months after. it was my first sexual encounter too. everytime it itch i wonder if i should get it checked. wish i didnt do it- he did not care and refused to get checked just said if i am that worry i should get checked. i did. still worry since some std only shows months after. my advice: dont have sex.

  4. Absolutely agreed. Doctors have to have a strong stomach – it’s part of the job description, I presume. On the other hand, I’m very squeamish, and I’m scared to look up information about medical conditions because I just know I’m going to be exposed to graphic images of disgustingly unhealthy medical conditions.

    As an aside, I look at pornographic pictures all the time (of healthy people having sex), and they hardly bother me. Yet they require much more in the way of restriction than medical images such as these (not necessarily affecting the genital organs). It just goes to show, sexually explicit images aren’t restricted to the extent that they are because they’re gross or traumatizing (many other subjects have the potential to be gross or traumatizing, and in the end, it’s subjective), but because sex is bad and we need to avoid temptation. ::rolls eyes::

    Getting back on topic, if I had a condition that looked as bad as these cases, I’d KNOW that something was wrong. It’s far more important to know what the less severe and early cases look like, and if you’re too afraid to look up information, that’s not helping at all. But the most irresponsible thing of all is that I suspect these sorts of pictures are being shown not to educate but to scare people off of having sex, and that’s manipulative and dishonest.

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