Friday, April 12, 2013

Chlamydia: The Broken Collarbone of the STI World

I wanted to use the CDC-approved slang term for chlamydia in the title of this post, so I could strike that supafly balance between legit and kewl (and also to point out the CDC recognizes the street names of these diseases), but, seriously, the CDC-approved slang terms for chlamydia are so gross, I just couldn't bring myself to to it.

I'm not even kidding.

That being said, I've never really broken a bone.  I mean, I've broken a couple of toes, and I royally screwed up an ankle in a dance class when I was a teenager, but I've never had a cast, or even a splint.  Ace bandages, ice packs and ibuprofen are about as serious as I've had to get.

It was plenty, thank you

I only bring it up because the title I did come up with might be a crock of poo.  I've never had a broken collarbone, so it might be utter agony, and if that's the case, I'm sorry for being insensitive.  But from what I've gathered, it's something you want to avoid, if at all possible, but if it ends up happening, it's not the end of the world.

It's red and uncomfortable for a minute, but you can still ROCK ON.

chlamydia is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection caused by Chlamydia trachomatis that primarily affects young people under age 25 - and boy howdy, does it.  In fact, recent surveillance data has suggested that 1 in 15 girls between 14 and 19 has chlamydia - which is kind of awful, if you ask me.

Chlamydia makes teens sad, y'all.

The infection can be passed through vaginal, anal and oral sex, and the most common symptom is no symptoms at all.  Good times!!  Other symptoms depend on who's got it and where:
  • In men with urethral (penile) infections, there's the oft-mentioned burning while urinating, discharge from the penis, difficulty urinating, and swelling and pain in the testicles.  
  • In women with vaginal infections (the most likely to have no symptoms), it can also cause burning while urinating, as well as vaginal discharge and pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • In rectal infections in both sexes, either through receptive anal sex (most likely) or spread from the cervix or vagina, symptoms can include pain, discharge or bleeding, but, again, the most common symptom is nothing.

sneaky little f*cker.

The good news is that chlamydia can be prevented, easily tested for, AND is easily treatable with antibiotics.  The best prevention, of course, is abstinence, or a long-term monogamy with an uninfected partner.  Other than that, condoms are your super-homie.

They won't let you down!

Testing is recommended whenever someone has symptoms, or yearly, for women under 25.  The test has traditionally been done with a urine sample - and it still is, for men - but recent changes in clinical guidelines advocate the use of a vaginal swab for diagnosis in women.  The swab can be taken during a pelvic exam, or can be self-collected during an STD check sans stirrups.

Because screw stirrups and the horse they rode in on.

Treatment can be as quick as one single dose of the antibiotic Azithromycin, or 7 days of Doxycycline. Erythromycin is a slightly-less favored treatment.  And this is where I want to get serious for a second: it might seem like a bacterial infection that often has no symptoms is not really a big deal.  For some people it's not.  For others, though, unchecked chlamydia can have dire consequences.

OK, maybe not THAT dire, but still.

Ectopic pregnancy and sterility lead the list of most serious consequences.  These complications are far more likely to occur in women than in men, but men can be rendered sterile by untreated chlamydia.  Repeated infections are not uncommon, so consistent testing and treatment are required while people remain at risk.  So, takeaway message - try not to get chlamydia, but if you do, get it taken care of.  It's not going to kill you, but it's not a sunny day at the park, either.   

Speaking of which, it's time to get here, sun!

Have fun and be careful!

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