Even though sexual awareness is higher than it has ever been, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 540 out of every 100,000 people in the United States have had chlamydia in 2020. The actual number is much higher, as most cases go unreported and undiagnosed. This raises an important concern about the quality of information that is available about chlamydia out there.
The misinformation on social media has generated numerous chlamydia myths which are causing people to engage in unsafe sexual practices, hence, putting their health at risk. This article debunks 7 such widespread myths that contribute to the rising numbers of chlamydia infections.
Myth 1: Only Women Get Chlamydia
Both women and men are susceptible to this sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, chlamydia is twice more widespread among women than men. It’s because of various anatomical differences; the most important of which is that the vaginal and vulva lining is much thinner than the skin surrounding the penis, making bacterial transmission more rapid among women.
Moreover, a man having sex with an infected woman could also contract chlamydia, resulting in long-term detriments if left untreated. Moreover, men who have sex with men are more likely to get this disease than heterosexual males.
Myth 2: Your Body Will Treat Chlamydia By Itself
Unlike flu or a common cold, the body’s immune system cannot destroy chlamydia by itself. If you are wondering how to get rid of chlamydia, you require medical intervention in the form of antibiotics.
Many a time, it is possible that the symptoms may go away in some people without the use of antibiotics, but the infection stays. There have also been instances in which the disease itself disappears too, but that is an exception and not the rule.
You mustn’t pay heed to these chlamydia myths because untreated chlamydia could develop into life-threatening conditions, such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) in women, which are characterized by irreversible scarring of the female genital tract. This may result in chronic pain, infertility, ectopic pregnancies, and in the case of pregnant women, premature, stillborn, or abnormal babies.
Other outcomes of long-term chlamydia include reactive arthritis (affecting joints and eyes) and liver inflammation in both men and women, and epididymitis (inflammation of the duct that stores sperm), swelling, and pain in the testicles, and infertility (not as common as female infertility) in men.
Therefore, if you think that you have contracted chlamydia, visit a healthcare professional, get tested and obtain an antibiotic treatment plan as soon as possible.
Myth 3: Chlamydia Can Only Be Transmitted Via Vaginal Intercourse
Consider it a rule of thumb that all sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can be transmitted vaginally can also be communicated via oral or anal sex. Contrary to popular chlamydia myths, bodily fluids are exchanged in these forms of sexual intercourse too whereby the bacteria can enter through the tiny cuts and tears in the mouth or anus.
The risk of transmission via oral and anal sex is higher than that in vaginal sex. Besides transmitting true chlamydia, the mouth to genital contact may also result in a non-severe form of chlamydia called pharyngeal chlamydia, throat chlamydia, or mouth chlamydia.
Mouth chlamydia is largely asymptomatic but may be accompanied by a swollen throat, mouth pain, and sores in the mouth.
To prevent this transmission, it is recommended you wear condoms before anal sex and a dental dam before oral. If the latter is inconvenient, there are flavored condoms available for use during fellatio instead.
Myth 4: You Can Only Get Chlamydia Once
Unlike infectious diseases such as mumps or chickenpox, chlamydia does not generate strong enough secondary immunity in your body that prevents a second outbreak. You could contract chlamydia every time you engage in unprotected sex with an affected individual, which is why you should wear a condom when you have sex with someone whose STI status you are not aware of.
Moreover, you should get routinely tested for chlamydia every 3 months, and if you test positive, your partner should be treated at the same time as you. Both of you should figure out how to get rid of chlamydia before resuming sexual activities.
Myth 5: You Can Contract Chlamydia from A Toilet Seat
Despite being one of the most widely believed chlamydia myths, there is no truth to this as the bacterium causing chlamydia does not have a long lifespan in a dry condition outside the human body.
It also does not spread via casual contact, hugging, kissing, sharing clothes, and utensils, and swimming in the same pool. Water droplets touching your skin cannot give you chlamydia, as they need to touch the inner lining of your genitalia.
This is the reason why sex toys are the only shareable objects that can cause chlamydia, besides intimate sexual contact without a condom.
Myth 6: It Is Easy To Know Whether Someone Does or Does Not Have Chlamydia
As around 50% of the men and 75% of the women who test positive for chlamydia are asymptomatic, there is absolutely no merit to this chlamydia myth. While some men may experience painful testicles and penile discharge, and women may face a burning sensation during peeing, most people exhibit none of these symptoms.
In some people, the appearance of symptoms may take 1 to 3 weeks after exposure while in others, it may take as long as several months. This widespread disparity makes it impossible to deduce with certainty whether someone has chlamydia. According to CDC, one in five people in the US has an STD.
Thus, it is advisable to get urine or a swab test done immediately if chlamydia is suspected, rather than believing these chlamydia myths and judging by your instincts.
Myth 7: You Only Need To Get Tested If You Have Had Multiple Sexual Partners
You have a 30% chance of contracting STI within the first sexual encounter, which is why the number of sexual encounters or sexual partners does not affect your ability to contract this infection.
What matters is whether you had unprotected sex with someone whose chlamydia status you are not familiar with, in which case you should get tested as soon as possible, even if it is only one sexual partner.
Now that you know which information about chlamydia is true and what you need to stop believing in, you must incorporate these safety measures into your sexual lifestyle. It is better to adopt certain measures to prevent it, rather than worrying about how to get rid of chlamydia.
Untreated chlamydia can have life-changing repercussions hence, you should get routinely tested, inquire all prospective sexual partners about their STI status, and use a condom. While a pill or an intrauterine device may prevent pregnancies, it is the use of a condom that will prevent a chlamydia infection.