The common STD known as Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that takes hold in your genital tract. Because it lives inside the genital area, the infection gets passed from person to person through sexual contact. You don't have to have full, penetrative sex to catch Chlamydia from someone who has it - if your genitals touch theirs in any way, you are at risk. You can also catch Chlamydia through having oral sex, vaginal sex and anal sex with an infected person. Of course, using condoms goes a long way towards preventing Chlamydia infection, but it doesn't eliminate the risk altogether.
Why Protect Yourself?
It's true that Chlamydia treatment is an easy-to-obtain course of prescription antibiotics, but that doesn't mean you can rely on treatment as a method of dealing with the disease.
The scary thing about Chlamydia is that it can have serious long-term consequences for your health if left untreated, but is often symptomless until it reaches an advanced stage. There are therefore millions of people out there who have Chlamydia but don't even know they are infecting their partners. Some of these partners will be women who may end up infertile as a consequence of contracting Chlamydia.
If that wasn't enough to convince you of the need for prevention rather than cure, then consider this: Chlamydia is generally spread through unprotected sex, i.e. sex without a condom. This means that the people who are catching Chlamydia are at the same time leaving themselves vulnerable to catching something a lot worse, like HIV.
Protection and prevention are clearly the best ways to tackle this common STD.
Chlamydia Prevention Methods
Your first, but not your only, course of action is to use condoms every time you have sex. But sometimes this won't be enough. If you're having sex with someone who is infected, even condoms can't give you 100 % protection. So what else can you do?
Get tested - go for STD testing and, if you are in a monogamous relationship, have your partner go too. Sexual partners often pass the infection back and forth between each other. Therefore, if one of you needs treatment, you should abstain from sex for around two weeks until you have been given the all-clear. If you are in an open relationship or you suspect your partner of infidelity, it's still worth both of you going for testing, but you must continue to use condoms anyway. It's a good idea to go for testing on half year or yearly basis, especially if you regularly have sexual contact with more than one person.
Limit your sexual partners and be faithful - keeping your number of sexual partners to a minimum and being faithful if you are in a relationship are obvious ways of protecting yourself and the person you care about from Chlamydia infection.
Abstain from sex - especially if you are in your teens, this may be the best way for you to prevent infection with Chlamydia and other STDs. Do you really need to be having sex just yet?
Don't douche (if you're a woman) - vaginal douching with water or other solutions can kill off or remove some of the healthy bacteria that naturally lives in the vagina. This can leave you more at risk of catching bacterial infections like Chlamydia.
Don't have sex if you have symptoms - if you or your partner develop STD symptoms, such as pain when you urinate, or unusual genital discharge, or a rash in the genital area, stop having sex and seek treatment right away. Even a condom may not offer enough protection if you have sex under these circumstances.
Remember that to be as effective as possible, condoms should be used during all forms of sexual activity, including oral and anal sex as well as vaginal sex. Extra strong condoms for anal sex and flavored condoms for oral sex are readily available from pharmacies and online shopping providers. Each condom must only be used once.
Chat with others about the best ways to prevent STDs in our STD forum.