I Think It’s Time We Talk About…

CHLAMYDIA. Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States. It can be transmitted during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. 1,307,893 Chlamydia infections were reported in the United States in 2010. However, the CDC estimates that 2.8 million people in the United States are infected with Chlamydia each year. Why the big difference? Most people with Chlamydia don’t know they’re infected or don’t get tested. Untreated Chlamydia can result in serious complications for both men and women.

In women, untreated Chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which is the infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes (tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus) and other reproductive organs. PID can lead to serious consequences including infertility, ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in the fallopian tube or outside the uterus), and chronic pelvic pain. Though complications in men are rare, they are still possible. Infection can sometimes spread to the epididymis (the tube that carries sperm from the testis), causing pain, fever, and, rarely, sterility.

So now that you know what happens if Chlamydia isn’t treated…(1)How can you prevent yourself from falling into the gap of not knowing your infected? (2)What do you if you have Chlamydia? and (3)How can you prevent yourself from getting Chlamydia in the first place?

1. How can you prevent yourself from falling into the gap of not knowing your infected?

Get Yourself TestedMost people infected with chlamydia don’t have symptoms. So, the only way to know you have Chlamydia is if you get tested. If symptoms do occur, they usually appear within 1 to 3 weeks after exposure. 

Symptoms in women include:

  • Abnormal discharge from your vagina
  • Burning when you urinate
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Pain in your lower belly or back, sometimes with a fever
  • Bleeding after sex or between periods
  • Pain, bleeding, or discharge from your rectum if you have anal sex

Symptoms in men include:

  • Discharge from your penis
  • Burning when you urinate
  • Burning and itching around the opening of your penis
  • Pain, bleeding, or discharge from your rectum if you have anal sex

Women 25 or under and sexually active should be tested for Chlamydia at least once a year, even if they don’t have symptoms. Ladies, you should also get tested if you’re having sex with more than one partner, with a new partner, or with someone who might have Chlamydia, or if you’re pregnant.

Guys, you should get tested if your partner (current or recent) is diagnosed with Chlamydia or if you experience any of the symptoms described above. Routine Chlamydia screening is not recommended for all men, but it is important for sexually active men to see a health care provider for regular checkups. Your provider can tell you if you need to be tested for Chlamydia or other STDs, based on your individual risk.

Chlamydia can be tested in two ways: urine sample or sample (swab) from cervix/vagina or penis. There are clinics that offer free and confidential testing. To find a testing center near you, enter your zip code finder at gytnow.org or text your zip code to GYTNOW (498669).

2. What do you do if you have Chlamydia?

Chlamydia can be treated and cured with antibiotics, which is why it’s important to get tested immediately. Persons with Chlamydia should abstain from sexual intercourse for 7 days after single dose antibiotics or until completion of a 7-day course of antibiotics to prevent spreading the infection to partners.

Also, you should get tested again about three months after you finish your treatment, especially if you’re not sure whether your partner was also treated. This is to make sure you are cured and have not been re-infected. And make sure to tell your partner(s) that he or she might also be infected.

3. How can you prevent yourself from getting chlamydia in the first place?

  • Use latex condoms consistently and correctly
  • Abstinence
  • Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and is known to be uninfected

For more information, check out Check Up: Chlamydia by MTV: It’s Your (Sex) Life.

By ALYSSA LLAMAS

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