What is chlamydia?
The bacteria that cause chlamydia usually infects a woman’s cervix or it may infect the urethra in both men and women. It can also infect the rectum, throat, or eyes.
Who has chlamydia?
A lot of people have chlamydia – as many as 1 in 10 young women test positive for it. In 2016, over 1 and a half million cases of chlamydia were reported to the CDC in the US. In California alone, there were almost 200,000 reported cases of chlamydia in 2016.
How do you get chlamydia?
You can get chlamydia from any type of sex. Chlamydia infections like to live in the type of tissue that lines the openings of your body – like the vagina, the urethra, the rectum, or the throat. It can get passed between two people any time these tissues come together – which happens most often during unprotected vaginal or anal sex. It’s less common – but not impossible – to get chlamydia from oral sex.
How do you know you have chlamydia? What are chlamydia symptoms?
Most people who have it don’t know because they don’t have symptoms. Among young women, chlamydia is sometimes called the “Silent Epidemic” because it causes so much damage in so many people without even showing any symptoms. A few people might have a thick yellow or clear discharge from the penis or vagina, pain or burning when they pee, or pain or bleeding during sex.
How do you test for chlamydia?
Clinicians can do a simple and painless urine test to find out if you have chlamydia. They may also collect a swab sample from the vagina, cervix, urethra or rectum during a physical exam.
Can you get rid of chlamydia?
Chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics. The best way to cure chlamydia and keep from infecting your partners, is to avoid sex for seven (7) days, until the antibiotics have done their job. If you do end up having sex while the antibiotics are still working it is really important to use a condom or else it is likely the medicine you took won’t work. If you got medication to take at home make sure you take all of the pills, even if you start to feel better – otherwise the infection might not go away completely.
How can you protect yourself from getting chlamydia?
The only method that is 100% effective in preventing STDs is abstinence, but if you’re sexually active, the best way to avoid chlamydia is to be mutually monogamous with someone who has tested negative for chlamydia. If you’re sexually active and under 25, you should get tested for chlamydia every year – better safe than sorry.
It’s important for both partners to get tested because it’s easy to get re-infected if one partner still has it. If you test positive for chlamydia, get tested again three (3) months later to make sure you don’t have it again.
Condoms give good protection against chlamydia during vaginal sex and during oral sex on a male.
For protection against chlamydia during oral sex on a female, you can use a dental dam as a barrier between the mouth and vulva. A dental dam is a thin square of latex that is placed over a woman’s vulva before her partner performs oral sex on her and acts as a barrier between the vulva and the mouth. They are sold in some stores, but you can make your own dental dam using a latex glove or a male condom.
For protection against Chlamydia during any type of anal sex (rimming, penetration, etc.), you can also use a female condom.
What’s the worst that could happen?
For women, a chlamydia infection can lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), an infection of parts of the reproductive system like the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. That means if you have chlamydia and you don’t get it treated, you might not be able to have babies if and when you want to. PID can also lead to problems like chronic pelvic pain or ectopic pregnancy.
In men, untreated chlamydia may spread to the testicles, causing pain, and in rare cases, infertility.
Chlamydia infection also increases your likelihood of getting HIV.
Finally, pregnant women who have chlamydia can pass it on to their babies during birth, which could cause blindness or lung damage.