Heather Corinna replies:
I have just been diagnosed with Chlamydia and was treated. I was wondering about safer sex in the future. Are condoms always going to protect me? Also, I have a vibrator and have always washed and dried it after use. Is it safe to use it again?
If you wound up with Chlamydia, it's highly unlikely you were using condoms for all genital contact, since Chlamydia is transmitted by fluids, which condoms keep out fantastically.
So, had you been using condoms and latex barriers for any vaginal, anal or oral sex, you would not likely have wound up with it in the first place: so long as you use them consistently -- as in, EVERY time you have sex -- and properly, condoms and other latex barriers provide excellent protection against Chlamydia and other bacterial STIs like it.
You just really have to be sure to use them every time, for all direct genital contact, and not even think about going without until you and your partner have been together for at least six months monogamously, practicing safer sex for that time, and each have at least TWO full and clear STI screenings under your belt. Another important way to protect against Chlamydia is to limit partners and choose exclusive relationships where you both stay current with your STI tests: if your partner you got it from had only been having sex with you over the last six months, and had had his STI tests before even talking about going without condoms, again -- it'd be pretty weird for you to contract Chlamydia.
In terms of your vibrator, the rule of thumb with sex toys and safer sex is this: if a toy cannot be boiled (silicone toys can, and so can a lot of vibrator attachments -- vibes that are one-piece and/or have batteries set into the toy usually cannot), then you need to cover it with a condom when you use it, and use a new condom with each use. If the vibe you have now wasn't covered for all use or isn't able to be boiled (you can do that with a pot or even with the hot setting on a dishwasher with toys that can be immersed in water), then I hate to tell you, but it'd be best to toss it and get a new one. Just be sure with that new one to keep it covered if it can't be sanitized by boiling.
Too, when you're buying toys, know that jelly-type toys are the worst offenders when it comes to harboring bacteria, so best to just steer clear of those altogether.