We asked Professor Elna McIntosh, a sexual health practitioner at DISA in Johannesburg, a clinic that offers a range of sexual and reproductive health services for women, to dispel some of the most common myths about chlamydia.
Myth 1: You would know if you had chlamydia
Fact: Chlamydia often has no symptoms, says Prof. McIntosh. “In fact, it’s so seldom tested for that it’s usually only recognised when a woman has trouble conceiving.”
Myth 2: You don’t need to be alarmed if you feel a burning sensation when urinating – it could just be a minor infection
Fact: “This can be a sign of a sexually transmitted disease or a sign of a urinary tract infection. Always get it checked out,” urges Prof. McIntosh.
Myth 3: You don’t need to get tested for chlamydia unless you have multiple partners
Fact: Prof. McIntosh urges all young people who are sexually active to test for chlamydia routinely, no matter how many partners you have, as people under the age of 25 are most at risk of contracting the STD. The damage of the infection often goes unnoticed for many years, but can lead to serious health problems later on including pelvic inflammatory disease that could lead to infertility and other serious complications.
Myth 4: Chlamydia can’t be treated or cured
Fact: Chlamydia can be treated and cured with antibiotics. If you and your partner have chlamydia, make sure that both of you are treated and retested about three months later to avoid reinfection.
Myth 5: Once you’ve had chlamydia you’re immune, so you won’t get it again
Fact: “Once you’ve had chlamydia you’ll always carry the antibodies, so you’ll always test antibody positive. However, if the disease isn’t active, you can’t pass it on,” explains Prof. McIntosh. You can, however, be reinfected by an untreated partner.
Myth 6: You can get chlamydia from a toilet seat
Fact: Prof. McIntosh confirms that this isn’t true, as the bacteria that causes the disease can’t survive long outside of the human body. Chlamydia is spread through sexual contact – specifically by coming into contact with infected semen or vaginal fluids.
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