All over the world, people are having sex, intercourse is the hobby of choice for many, and despite the furore surrounding safe sex and using protection, STDs are still very common. From genital herpes to gonorrhoea, hepatitis to chlamydia there is many to be wary of. Nobody wants to put their hand up and relay to all and sundry that they suspect they have caught something nasty following unprotected sex, but if you think you have picked up an STD you do need to act.
Let’s look at one of the most common STDs – chlamydia. In our brief guide, we will explore symptoms, diagnosis, complications and chlamydia treatment. We know it’s not easy to visit your GP or clinic but it is essential that you seek advice, and you can rest assured that they will offer discreet chlamydia treatment.
What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that is passed on from person to person via sexual contact (via semen or vaginal fluid). Let us first elaborate on what sexual contact actually means – it doesn’t just relate to intercourse (penetration). It can include oral sex and the use of sex toys such as vibrators.
Who Can Catch Chlamydia?
Anyone engaging in unprotected sex can catch chlamydia from their partner, but the STD is particularly common in teenagers and younger adults. Chlamydia is passed on via unprotected sex – if you don’t use a condom you risk catching this STD and a whole host of others. You have to ask yourself is unprotected sex worth the potential risks?
How Do You Catch Chlamydia?
If you decide to have oral, vaginal or anal sex and neglect to use a condom then you are putting yourself at risk from catching chlamydia (and a whole host of another unpleasant STDs). You don’t have to have full sex to catch chlamydia, if your genitals touch your partners then the STD can still make its way quite easily from A to B, just because there is no penetration it doesn’t mean you are “safe.” Even sex toys aren’t immune to contamination, unwashed sex toys can pass on the STD from person to person.
If you’re using vibrators and the likes, make sure you wash them thoroughly and to be super safe cover them with a condom prior to use on one another. Chlamydia can even be passed on if you are unfortunate enough to get sexual fluid in your eye!
Can I Catch Chlamydia Through Kissing or Sitting on an Infected Toilet Seat?
No, we are pleased to report you won’t catch chlamydia by having a smooch with your partner of giving someone a hug or kiss. Similarly, you don’t have to fret if you go for a swim, borrow a towel, go for a wee in a public loo, pick up a knife and fork in a restaurant or enjoy a bubbly dip in a hot-tub.
Chlamydia in Women
Both men and women can catch and pass on chlamydia. However, from here on in we will be looking at the impact of Chlamydia on women.
Should I Get Tested for Chlamydia?
Are you under the age of 25 and are you having intercourse? Once a year is the recommended frequency for a test unless you change sexual partners at some point (in which case it’s wise to get tested then).
What Are the Symptoms of Chlamydia?
Chlamydia is bacteria that cause infection, in women it can be found in the cervix, urethra, throat or rectum, and even if it’s present it’s hard to know you have the STD. It’s “normal” not to experience any symptoms, and therefore unprotected sex with partners could result in the STD being spread further.
If you do experience symptom you might notice:
• Unusual vaginal discharge.
• Unusual discharge from the back passage.
• Tummy pains.
• Bleeding in between periods.
• Bleeding after intercourse.
• Some discomfort when urinating.
If you do spot any of these it’s time to seek some medical advice!
How is Chlamydia Diagnosed?
Think you might have chlamydia? Then head to your GP or a clinic for a test. There are a couple of ways you can find out if you are infected. An internal examination can be carried out where the cervix is swabbed using a speculum, but some women find this a little intrusive. Alternatively, you could swab your own vagina (which avoids the stirrup/latex glove awkwardness that can cause concern for some), or you could submit a urine specimen for analysis. If you aren’t happy about getting tested at a medical facility you could look at buying a test that you can carry out at home – but if you do this and find that you test positive for Chlamydia you must promise yourself that you will seek medical assistance and advice afterward.
What Should I Do If I am Diagnosed as Having Chlamydia?
First things first, do not panic. It’s never nice finding out you have an ailment and even worse discovering it’s related to your sex life! Once you have finished berating yourself for being reckless it’s time to face the music. Contact any partners you have had unprotected sex with, explain the situation and encourage them to go and get checked out too. This might not be the easiest conversation to have but it is necessary – your previous partner may have chlamydia too and if they are unaware they could have infected someone else.
Once you have received the treatment you should go for a follow-up test at some point just to check you are completely STD free.
What Complications Are Associated with Chlamydia?
Chlamydia can be treated, so if you suspect you do have this STD do not delay as if left untreated there can be devastating consequences. These include pelvic inflammatory disease and the potential ruin of the fallopian tubes, there’s also the very real risk of an ectopic pregnancy and it’s probably you will experience problems with fertility. With all of these things to worry out it brings to the fore why the message about always making sure you have sex safe remains so prevalent.
Chlamydia can also be transmitted during pregnancy, from a mother to the baby in her womb. It’s linked to premature births, eye infections, and pneumonia and as many mothers-to-be don’t even know they are suffering from the STD it’s very hard to know which infants will be affected. As a precautionary measure, all new-borns are now given eye drops to prevent any serious damage to the eyes.
How Is Chlamydia Treated?
Most STD’s can be treated, and chlamydia is usually dealt with by the prescription of antibiotics. Your GP or the medical professional at the clinic might prescribe Zithromax or Zmax (but this is pricey) so you may well be offered Oracea or Adoxa instead. There are numerous antibiotics available to treat this STD, we can’t list them all and different medical establishments may provide different treatment.
As we evolve our bodies sometimes become more resistant to the antibiotics and medication we ingest, however for now the antibiotics used to treat chlamydia seem to be working well for the majority of STD sufferers.
I Feel Upset by My Diagnosis
There is still a stigma attached to contracting an STD, and some women feel dirty or embarrassed by catching something from a sexual encounter. Don’t judge yourself too harshly, these things do happen! It might help to talk to your GP or a clinician, they can offer reassurance and explain the remedies on offer to get rid of your unwanted STD. A friend may also be able to lift your mood, pick someone with a good ear and head to their house for a much-needed cuppa and an opportunity to put the world to rights.
How Can I Reduce My Chances of Contracting Chlamydia?
Well, you could refrain from sexual contact entirely, but where’s the fun in that? The best thing you can do is to be CAREFUL and always engage in safe sex. It’s impossible to know if your new partner is free from all STDs, and infections are often spread through ignorance rather than malicious intent. Some people have no idea they are suffering from an STD, they have not sought a diagnosis – perhaps they have no symptoms or do not realize the symptoms they do have are indicative of a particular STD. Either way, if they continue to have unprotected sex they are sharing more than a joyful experience with their unsuspecting partner(s).
The barrier method is best, so always use a condom. We’ve already mentioned sex toys, the best way of ensuring you don’t pick up any bacteria from your playthings is to wash them well after use and not to share!