A few weeks ago we learned that two-thirds of everyone in the world under 50 are infected with herpes simplex 1. If that was scary enough, then this news about chlamydia will take you over the edge.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released its annual report, and in it was some pretty shocking news about the increasingly common STD. According to its data from last year, there were 1,441,789 reported cases of chlamydia. Not only was this the highest number of annual STD cases recorded by the CDC, but it’s the highest of any reported condition in CDC history. Can we say terrifying?
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While chlamydia is the only one to have such a dramatic spike, the CDC saw a rise in both syphilis and gonorrhea cases as well. It’s the first time all three have shown a significant increase since 2006. According to Time magazine, syphilis has three stages of infection, and the CDC reported a staggering 15.1 percent increase of cases of the first two stages since 2013.
Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, said in a statement, “America’s worsening STD epidemic is a clear call for better diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.” Experts are still unclear as to the reason rates of cases are skyrocketing, but lack of access to proper testing seems to be a major factor.
The CDC says women and young people are the most affected by STDs, and women have the most to lose when it comes to chlamydia. If left untreated, it can permanently damage a woman’s reproductive system, making it difficult to impossible for her to have children. It can also be symptomless for years, so if you don’t get frequent screenings, you may have it and not know it.
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How do you get it?
Chlamydia is spread by skin-to-skin contact during vagina, oral or anal sex with an infected person. You can still get it from a man even if he doesn’t ejaculate. If you’re pregnant, you can pass it to your baby during childbirth.
Can it affect my baby in other ways?
Chlamydia can cause preterm labor, premature rupture of the membranes surrounding the baby in the uterus and low birth weight. If your baby contracts the disease during birth, it could cause eye and lung infections.
How can you reduce your risk of getting it?
Always use condoms correctly when you have sex, including oral and anal. If you’re in a monogamous relationship with someone, it’s still smart to get tested regularly.
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What are the symptoms?
Usually there aren’t any (especially if you’re a guy), which is why it’s important to get tested regularly if you’re having sex with multiple partners. However, if you do have symptoms, they’ll fall into these categories:
- Abnormal vagina/penile discharge
- Burning during urination
- Pain and swelling in the testicles (if you’re male)
Symptoms typically don’t show up until approximately seven weeks after you contract the disease.
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Can chlamydia be cured?
Yes, your doctor will prescribe you medication, and you must take all of it to cure the infection. However, repeat infections are possible with chlamydia, so you need to get tested three months after you complete treatment.
Both you and your sexual partner(s) should wait until you’ve taken all the medication before having sex again. If your doctor gives you only one dose, wait seven days after you take said dose.
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