I THOUGHT I HAD CHLAMYDIA

I THOUGHT I HAD CHLAMYDIA

I’m not sure if I actually had chlamydia, but I took some antibiotics anyway. As it turns out, it’s quite a common occurrence. It’s especially common in places like… the deep south of America, where “abstinence only” sex education is the mandate and young people are not given any useful information on how sex actually works in the real world.

I remember the call well. I was sitting in my cabin on one of the 19 cruise ships I called home over the 6 years I spent as a crew member. On the other end of the line was someone who I cared for deeply. We were chatting as usual when he hit me with a “So I redid my STD/STI tests recently and I tested positive for chlamydia… I’m not sure if that happened before or after I met you… so I think you should probably get tested or take the meds for it, just in case.”

He said it all so matter-of-factly, but I just sat there with my jaw slightly dropped. My first thought was – you mother fucker. But that didn’t last long because I loved him… and because there wasn’t much I could do at that point. What was done was done, and I could only move forward.

However, before the practical, levelheaded version of me took over, I had a moment of sheer panic. With the limited sexual education, I did possess at the time, all I equated this situation to was rotten, crusty genitalia… and death. I couldn’t understand how calm he was while telling me this information if we were both about to meet our sudden sexual death.

By the time I hung up that call, my mind was spinning. What was I going to do?

And then the biggest “oh shit” moment hit me… what would I tell my current partner!?

I cursed my beloved caller’s name under my breath several times while I attempted to formulate an action plan.

Eventually, I made my way to the medical center to inquire what my next steps should be. I explained the conversation to the nurse and then the doctor.

I remained poised and in control of my information delivery, even though I was still majorly freaking out on the inside.

To my surprise, both the nurse and the doctor had similar reactions to my story. They said something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s no big deal. One round of antibiotics and you’ll be good.”

I remember thinking first and foremost – what a relief! That was quickly followed by – why the hell did the only education I got on this stuff make it seem like the end of the world?

The doctor didn’t even test me for it. She said that it’s extremely common and easy to take care of, so she just gives the antibiotics. It’s actually cheaper than getting the full test done. (Remember, I’m retelling this as one of my cruise ship crewmember stories. A normal medical center would have full-panel tested me as well).

My second wave of thoughts to work through included how to tell the person I was currently sleeping with about the situation. I think I was more panicked about that than anything. The thing I feared most was slut shaming, and I liked this guy – a lot! It was some of the best sex I had ever experienced in my life and all I could think of was how I didn’t want this chlamydia nonsense to be what ended our trysting.

I remember calling my sister (the only person I dared to tell at the time) and asking her how I should tell him. I told her I tried writing a note and thought about a text, but no… she told me that I had to be a big girl about this and tell him in person.

So, that day, I sat across from a beautiful specimen of a man – who had no idea why I’d called him into my office – locked the door… and then didn’t get naked.

I slipped him a pouch with two pills inside (I had finagled a second dose from the doctor), handed him a bottle of water, and proceeded to tell him all about what had been going on over the last couple of days. He took the pills with a twisted grin on his face. He chuckled and told me that it wasn’t his first rodeo with this sort of situation, although it had been a decade or two since his last experience. Then his famous closing words – I’ll punish you later for this.

WHEW!

Life went on, and I’d like to say that I became increasingly more cautious after this incident, but that isn’t totally accurate. I did up my game when it came to introducing new partners into my life, but I still had my “trusting” moments.

I decided to tell this story for a few reasons. Firstly, to own it. In that owning of it and retelling the story, I wanted to show you that it’s not that hard, not that terrifying, and not… dare I say it… that serious, this STI/STD thing. At least, some of them aren’t, anyway.

That leads me to my second reason for the share. I basically panicked for nothing. I had years of misinformation swirling around in my head that made my stomach turn for days. When I finally faced the problem, I quickly learned that I didn’t actually know much at all when it came to true and accurate sexual health. At this time, I assumed that condoms were the only real form of protection and a part of my assumption was that the person with the penis was the one responsible for providing it.

Not only that, but the safer sex talk was not one I’d ever really had. Honestly, it made me uncomfortable. Men in my past had made me feel like that conversation and those requests meant that I was being needy or high maintenance. And if they were to happen just before sexual activity… well, it just took the sexiness away, according to them.

My goal and hope for this share is to “progress the plot” in terms of making the STD/STI conversation more normal, to help conversations about these subjects be TRUTHFUL and SHAMELESS, and to encourage more women to take control of their sexual health and protection. Recently, I handed out condoms and gum to my girlfriends before we left for a night out. Yeah… I’m that friend.

Needless to say, a great deal has changed regarding my attitude towards all of this – and that’s putting it mildly!

It’s a personal mission of mine to make the world a less sexually repressed and more sexually empowered place, and that certainly includes this topic!

I want you to have as much healthy (energetically & biologically) sex as you desire.

I also want you to know that you have my full support and the support of The Violet Butterfly/Kaleidoscope too <3

#TRUTHTIME (Mayo Clinic & Biem)

Chlamydia

The most common STD/STI after HPV (fun fact, Louisiana has the most cases reported out of the entire continental US).

How to contract? – vaginal/anal/oral sex

Symptoms – Some people have no symptoms, but common signs to look for can include abnormal discharge, which is unusual fluid or mucus released from the vagina, or a burning feeling when you urinate.

Treatment – ANTIBIOTICS

 

Gonorrhea

A sexually transmitted bacterial infection that, if untreated, may cause infertility. Often occurs alongside chlamydia.

Symptoms –  include painful urination and abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina. Men may experience testicular pain and women may experience pain in the lower belly. In some cases, gonorrhea has no symptoms.

Treatment – ANTIBIOTICS

 

Syphilis

Was almost eradicated in the US a decade ago, but it’s back now. It can also be passed to unborn babies.

Symptoms – The first stage involves a painless sore on the genitals, rectum, or mouth. After the initial sore heals, the second stage is characterized by a rash. Then, there are no symptoms until the final stage which may occur years later. This final stage can result in damage to the brain, nerves, eyes, or heart.

Treatment – ANTIBIOTICS

 

HPV

Many people with HPV don’t develop any symptoms but can still infect others through sexual contact.

Symptoms – may include warts on the genitals or surrounding skin.

Treatment – There’s no cure for the virus and warts may go away on their own. Treatment focuses on removing warts.

 

Herpes

Can be transmitted even when using condoms if your partner has an outbreak on or around his/her genitals.

Symptoms – Pain, itching, and small sores appear first. They form ulcers and scabs. After initial infection, genital herpes lies dormant in the body. Symptoms can recur for years.

Treatment – Centered around outbreak prevention and treatment of symptoms, but there is no permanent cure for the virus.

 

HIV/AIDS

The virus can be transmitted through contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids.

Symptoms – Within a few weeks of HIV infection, flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and fatigue can occur. Then the disease is usually asymptomatic until it progresses to AIDS.

AIDS symptoms include weight loss, fever or night sweats, fatigue, and recurrent infections.

Treatment – No cure exists for AIDS, but strict adherence to antiretroviral regimens (ARVs) can dramatically slow the disease’s progress as well as prevent secondary infections and complications.

*Share this message if you agree that safer sex conversations should be normal conversations.

**Special shout out to Bryan and his Biem team for providing some of this information and for all of the wonderful work they’re doing to help normalize the safer sex talk. More importantly, they are making getting tested and sharing results easy, affordable and manageable with their game-changing app. If you’re anywhere in NY state, download the Biem app now and join the sex-positive revolution by sticking up and showing up for your sexual health!

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