LET’S GET INTO IT: CHLAMYDIA
First good news: Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial STD in the US — and it’s totally curable with antibiotics. Second good news: It’s also pretty easy to protect yourself from it, because it’s spread through unprotected anal, vaginal, and oral sex with someone who has it. That means condoms are excellent at protecting against chlamydia.
Keep reading for answer to some of the most common questions people have about chlamydia, including how it’s spread, where to get treated, and what treatment is like.
EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT CHLAMYDIA
HOW IS CHLAMYDIA SPREAD?
Chlamydia is spread through sex without a condom with a person who is infected with gonorrhea. That includes oral, vaginal, and anal sex, because the infection is carried in people’s semen (cum), pre-cum, and vaginal fluids. You can also get it in your eye if infected cum, pre-cum, or vaginal fluid is on your hand (or your partner’s hand) and you touch your eye.
Chlamydia is not spread through casual contact, so you can’t get it from hugging, kissing, sharing food and drinks, holding hands, sneezing, or from sitting on toilet seats.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CHLAMYDIA?
A lot of people don’t show any symptoms of chlamydia at all or they have really mild symptoms and don’t recognize them as an STD. If people do have symptoms, they usually show up a few weeks after being exposed to the bacteria.
The symptoms of chlamydia are different for people with penises and people with vaginas. In people with penises, they include discharge, pain or burning sensation during urination, pain or swelling in the testicles, or rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding. In people with vaginas, symptoms include discharge, lower abdominal pain, pain during urination, sore throat, pain or discomfort during sex, bleeding after sex, discharge in stools, and rectal bleeding.
HOW COMMON IS CHLAMYDIA?
Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs, particularly for people below the age of 24. Part of the reason it’s so common is the fact that a lot of people don’t show symptoms, so they may pass it on without even knowing.
SHOULD I GET TESTED FOR CHLAMYDIA?
If you’re showing symptoms of chlamydia or a sexual partner has told you that they tested positive, yes, absolutely. Otherwise, once a year along with all of your other STD tests should be good.
WHERE CAN I GET TESTED FOR CHLAMYDIA?
Your doctor can test you for chlamydia if you’re showing symptoms, or as part of your yearly workup. But if you don’t have a regular doctor — or you just don’t feel comfortable talking to them about this issue — check out our map for testing sites around DC.
HOW MUCH DOES CHLAMYDIA TESTING COST?
That depends! If you have insurance, it may cover STD testing, either fully or partially. Your best bet is to give them a call and see what their policy is. But there are also clinics that offer testing on a sliding scale fee, which means it could be as cheap as “free” if you qualify. Once you’ve decided on the clinic you’re interested in visiting, give them a ring and ask about costs.
HOW IS CHLAMYDIA TREATED?
If you test positive for chlamydia, your doctor will treat it with antibiotics. You should also know that if you contract chlamydia once, there’s a chance it’ll happen again, so get tested three months after treatment just to make sure you’re in the clear.
HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF?
Chlamydia is common, but there’s one cheap, easy, and accessible way to prevent it: Condoms! Because the infection lives in fluids (like cum and vaginal fluids), condoms provide great protection against it. We’ll even give you some for free!
You can also avoid re-infection by getting treated if you have symptoms — and making sure your partner gets treated, too. That way you can avoid passing the infection back and forth.