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Secrets, Secrets Are No Fun

By HERWriter
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It is easy to tell someone that if they suspect they have contracted a sexually transmitted disease, they should go get tested and seek treatment. No one is enticed by a penis or vagina that is dripping with pus or painfully inflamed.

Unfortunately, more often than not, STDs are not so easily recognized, making it difficult to encourage individuals to get tested and treated. Chlamydia is one of these infections -- usually asymptomatic in both men and women and likely the reason why “Chlamydia is one of the most widespread STDs in the United States.” (CDC, 2009)

The most recent report on STD Trends in the United States was published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2009. The overall data indicated that rates of chlamydia transmission in particular have increased over the past decade. While this is absolutely cause for concern and conscious action, the report emphasizes that “continuing increases in Chlamydia diagnoses [also] likely reflect expanded screening efforts, and not necessarily just an increase in disease burden.” (CDC, 2009)

Researchers are optimistic that this indicates more people are accessing care, getting tested and accepting treatment. (Hooray!!) But we must also acknowledge that due to the asymptomatic nature of this infection, for each person who receives care, there may be another who does not yet know they have contracted chlamydia.

So, what is so bad about an STD that has no symptoms? Can’t be too awful, right? WRONG!

Some men and women DO exhibit signs of chlamydia, which include painful urination, lower abdominal pain, discharge or pain during sex. Because these symptoms are generally mild or can indicate a wide variety of conditions (including very natural ones like menstruation!), they are still easy to overlook.

BUT even if you can’t see/feel the effects of the disease, chlamydia has dangerous complications that can make you more susceptible to other infections, cause arthritis later in life, and lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women.

PID is a painful infection that causes severe pain and fever and often requires Intravenous antibiotics. More frighteningly, in roughly 10-20 percent of cases, PID causes infertility or life-threatening ectopic pregnancy (a condition where the fertilized egg implants outside your uterus and requires emergency surgery). (CDC, 2009) The bacteria that causes chlamydia can also be passed from mother to child during delivery, causing an eye infection in the newborn.

So, even though the statistics from 2009 are scary (1,244,180 cases of chlamydia were reported in the United States. Young, black women aged 15-19 are the population that is most affected/infected by the disease. Public health experts believe roughly half of the cases of chlamydia in the United States aren’t reported, etc.) there is good news! Chlamydia is easily treated with a full course of antibiotics that can be taken in one dose or several doses over 10 days.

The bottom line?? GET TESTED. Even if you are positive you haven’t been exposed to the disease ... better safe than sorry, right?

If cost is an issue for you, most state and local health departments offer STD testing for free. Check out this website to learn more about locations near you: http://yourstdhelp.com/free_clinic_locator.html


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (November 2010) “2009 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance.” http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats09/tables/trends-table.htm

“Chlamydia.” Mayo Clinic (2011). Web. 7, Sept. 2011.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Self-Study STD Module Chlamydia.” (December 2009)

Reviewed September 9, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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