While almost everyone has heard the word “chlamydia,” few people know what it actually is – let alone how to protect themselves from it.

Unfortunately, chlamydia can have serious long-term consequences if you fail to take the disease seriously. According to Everyday Health, untreated chlamydia in women can lead to “Severe infection with pain and fever requiring a hospital stay; Pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of the upper reproductive tract; Scarring in the reproductive tract that causes infertility; Higher risk of ectopic pregnancy.”

They add that “Men are less likely than women to have major health problems linked to chlamydia, although they can develop epididymitis, an inflammation of a structure within the testicles called the epididymis that can result in infertility.” Also, “A chlamydia infection can sometimes result in reactive arthritis in both men and women.” (1)

In other words, this is a disease best avoided if at all possible – and that means both understanding the disease and taking steps to ensure you treat it quickly if you have it. Let’s start with the former.

What Is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It is a sexually transmitted disease – also called an STD or sexually transmitted infection (STI). That means it passes for person to person during sexual activity, living in the throats, rectums, and genitals of infected individuals. While it doesn’t usually pass from one person to another during oral sex, it can. It is, however, most common during vaginal sex.

How Common Is It?

Unfortunately, chlamydia is very common. According to Teensource, “A lot of people have chlamydia – as many as 1 in 10 young women test positive for it. In 2016, over 1 and a half million cases of chlamydia were reported to the CDC in the US. In California alone, there were almost 200,000 reported cases of chlamydia in 2016.” (2)

Chlamydia is most common in the 20-24 set. This is a highly sexually active crowd, which accounts for the 1,700 male cases per 100,000 population members and almost 4,000 female cases in 2017. The 15-19 set also had high numbers, with the 25-29 set falling just behind that. Surprisingly, these numbers remain significant right on up to the late 30s, when they fall off sharply. (3)

The takeaway: Chlamydia is a widespread infection with considerable risk to anyone who is sexually active and not taking the proper precautions.

Who Is at Risk?

So who exactly is at risk? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Anyone who has sex can get chlamydia through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. However, sexually active young people are at a higher risk of getting chlamydia. This is due to behaviors and biological factors common among young people. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are also at risk since chlamydia can spread through oral and anal sex.” (4)

Other risk factors include:

  • Having unprotected sex with new partners
  • Having sex with multiple partners, which makes it more difficult to tell who is a safe and who is a risky partner
  • Making sexual decisions while drunk or high, especially with new partners
  • Going for years without getting tested
  • Using IV drugs and sharing needles (a serious risk factor for bloodborne diseases, but also linked to a wide variety of STDs correlatively)

Women should also keep in mind that, if they deliver a baby while they have a chlamydia infection, their babies can contract it as well. This can cause serious health problems. If you are pregnant and think you might be at risk, get tested immediately, so that you can get treatment before you give birth.

No matter what, the best way to protect yourself against any of the following is to test regularly. That way, you reduce the chances that you will unknowingly transmit the disease to someone else. You also give yourself the right to ask your new partners to get tested before you sleep with them, which is empowering.

Where to Test

The real question when it comes to testing for chlamydia is where you will take the test. There exist any number of options, so it’s important to choose the one that makes the most sense for you at this moment.

At Your Primary Care Physician’s Office

If you have a primary care provider whom you see regularly and trust, that might be your best source of testing. Your doctor knows your sexual and general health history, and can give you the best advice for you, whether or not your test comes back positive.

Keep in mind, though, that your doctor isn’t likely to give you regular STD tests unless you ask for them. Don’t expect them to spearhead your sexual health campaign; don’t just relax and assume everything is fine if they’re not suggesting a test. It’s up to you to make it happen and protect yourself.

At a Free or Reduced-Fee Clinic

If you don’t have a doctor, you move around a lot or you’re low on funds, try a free or reduced cost clinic. Planned Parenthood is the most obvious choice for many, though there are other government and community-run clinics throughout the country as well. These will administer STD tests at rates you can afford, then deliver your results in a discreet way via mail, phone or email.

At Home

Want to take your test from the privacy of your own home? Now you can, with easy at home chlamydia test kits from iDNA. These kits allow you to order online then collect a sample yourself without going anywhere or seeing anyone. You then mail your sample to our cutting-edge labs, where we work 24/7 to get you the fastest possible results. In the meantime, register online to track your test’s progress and receive your results. If you get a positive, you can schedule an appointment with a doctor or clinic. Otherwise, you can celebrate and wait to test again next time you need to.

Take Charge of Your Sexual Health Today

At home testing is probably the best way to maintain a long and healthy sex life, and you should continue to do it until you are with a monogamous partner and you’ve both tested negative for all STDs. Until that day, do the safe and responsible thing, and get tested regularly, affordably, discreetly and effectively right at home. Order your iDNA At Home STD Test Kit today!

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