Carnival of Chlamydia Questions

Can you get Chlamydia from giving your boyfriend head then having vaginal sex? I mean I've heard that, but is it true if you use a condom after the oral?
Heather Corinna replies:

If your boyfriend has Chlamydia, you can get it yourself via either oral sex or vaginal intercourse. Using condoms for both those activities, however, greatly reduces your risks of contracting Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections.

So, if your partner has it, and you don't use a condom for oral sex, you can get it that way, even if you use a condom for vaginal sex, though the risk of contracting Chlamydia vaginally is higher than it is for getting it by mouth.

Your best bet when it comes to safer sex is to practice the guidelines suggested by major world health organizations, which are these:

For the first six months of any new sexual relationship:

  • Have BOTH partners start out with a new, full STI screening from their sexual healthcare provider.
  • Use latex barriers (primarily condoms) for any and all oral, vaginal and/or anal sex, from start to finish, without exception.
  • Have both partner remain monogamous -- sexually exclusive to each other for those six months.
  • At the end of the six month period, both partners should have a second full screening.

If at that point, you're both still monogamous and all your tests came back clear, you can be assured that your STI risks are minimal-to-none, and if you both would like to ditch latex barriers for any or all of those sexual activities, it's then much safer to do so at that point.

For more information on safer sex practice, check this out: Safe, Sound & Sexy: A Safer Sex How-To.

Panda asks,

I have had protected sex with a girl, however my condom broke. I found out a few weeks later that this girl tested positive for Chlamydia. What are the chances that I am infected?

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection transmitted through body fluids, which is why condoms are very effective at preventing the spread of the infection. However, since your condom broke, and you may have been exposed, you will want to go ahead and see your healthcare provider for a test to see if you acquired it.

If you did, no need to sweat it: Chlamydia is very easy to treat, and so long as it is treated in a timely fashion, is unlikely to cause any health problems.

There's no easy number for what your chances were, because all of our immune systems vary so much, so it can be pretty random: one person directly exposed won't get it while another will. You also do not know if the girl was treated for Chlamydia (if she did, in fact, have it, rather than that just being a rumor), and if she was done with her treatment at the time you two had sex. If she was treated and was through with all her treatment, she would no longer have had Chlamydia, and thus, could not have given it to you.

Even without known or suspected exposure to an infection, if you're sexually active, ideally you want to get a full screening for STIs at least once a year, or more often if you switch or add sexual partners more frequently than that. It's never sound to only rely on a partner's tests, or on partner's informing us they have an STI. Safer sex does drastically reduce STI transmission, but it still doesn't eradicate it completely. Sometimes, even with condom use that's perfect, an STI can be transmitted.

For more on testing, have a look here:Testing, Testing.

Jessi asks,

I have been with my boyfriend for 4 months now. I have had the rod put in my arm so I can't get pregnant as I am only 16 because sometimes we get a bit to carried away and forget to use a condom. He went on holiday with his friends before me and him got together but the day he got of his holiday he told me he thinks he has got Chlamydia. He said to me that a DJ told him that if he shakes hands with somebody then goes to the toilets and touches his penis he can catch the STI! Can that happen? I think he may have been with someone while he was on holiday because he also keeps talking about this one girl. I tried to ask him about it but it turned into an argument because he thinks that I don't trust him. I've told him to go and get checked out but you have to wait 2 weeks before anything appears and its really worrying me. I'm scared in case I catch the STI and I have been using condoms and I'm not going to stop until he gets his results when he gets cheeked out. PLEASE WILL YOU HELP ME?

It would be VERY unlikely to contract Chlamydia by shaking hands with someone (more unlikely then winning the lottery). It is almost always transmitted by direct genital contact with the genitals of one person who has the infection. It is possible for Chlamydia to be contracted hand-to-eye, but it is thought to be very rare. The reason we call infections like Chlamydia sexually transmitted is because it is through sex which they are most often transmitted.

However, if you're going to go without condoms at any point, BOTH of you should have at least one, and preferably two, full STI screenings each before doing that, as I explained when I answered Nichole. Whether or not he was exposed -- not through handshaking, but through previous sexual partnership, on holiday or at any other time -- you've been sexually active, including without condoms, so you need to go get your own tests no matter what his say, rather than just waiting on his. If he does have it, and you got it from him, it's best to be treated as soon as possible.

As well, Chlamydia isn't the only STI out there, so if he has had sexual partners before you and has not been tested, you've possibly been at risk of any number of infections, some of which are much more serious than Chlamydia is.

It's really important that a sexual partner is able to have a calm discussion with maturity and honesty about their sexual history. If a partner accuses you of not trusting them, rather than simply being honest and open, that's not likely someone who is a sound partner to be with. (As well, that can be a defensive reaction from someone who knows they should not BE trusted or who does have something to hide.) Until this guy is ready to have these kinds of discussions, I'd not advise you be sexually active with him at all, even with condoms. You -- as do we all -- need a partner with the maturity and care to talk about these issues like a grownup. Talks about sexual health should not involve temper tantrums or accusations of mistrust because you want to safeguard your health. If he's not ready for that, then he's really not ready for sex with someone else.

For more on Chlamydia and how it is transmitted, see here: The STI Files: Chlamydia. To find out what infections you're at risk at with certain sexual activities, here's a concise list:STI Risk Assessment: The Cliff's Notes.

ms.fabulous asks,

I just practiced anal sex for the first time, and I'm scared out of my mind. Ive been for the same partner for the last 5 years, and we have two healthy babies. My question to you is: when having unprotected anal sex (without the ejaculation) and have vaginal sex soon after (with ejaculation), what are the potential risks I'M getting? Do I need to get it checked? -- no worries I'm on birth control, and if I'm pregnant again YIPPY YEY!! A friend of mine, both partners, got Chlamydia from doing this, so I'm very scared...

In order to contract Chlamydia, you have to be exposed to the virus through a sexual partner who has it. In other words, anal sex or anal-to-vaginal sex, in and of itself can't create Chlamydia. It can be transmitted vaginally or anally -- with or without a full ejaculation -- but someone has to have it in the first place.

So, in your friends case, one of those partners would already have had Chlamydia for the other to get it. If she and her partner had a full STI screening before they went without condoms, and neither had Chlamydia, one of them must have contracted it from sex outside the relationship after that last round of testing. If neither she nor a partner had any testing before their relationship, then who knows when -- or how -- it was originally contracted.

If you and your partner are current with your STI screenings and neither of you has been found to have Chlamydia, and you're both monogamous, neither of you are going to get Chlamydia from each other. Even when it's not present, though -- nor are other STIs, as determined by regular testing -- anal-to-vaginal intercourse does present a risk of bacterial infections just through exposure to the bacteria in traces of fecal matter, so it's best to use condoms for anal sex.

Chels asks,

I had Chlamydia and was treated but now I have been totally put off with having sex. Why is this?

It's pretty normal, when you find yourself having experienced an actual negative consequence of sex -- rather than just knowing it's possible -- to have some conflicted feelings about sex during or afterward.

Some people have the idea STIs never actually happen, that they only happen to other people, or that sex doesn't really present these risks at all, so if and when the reality of an STI happens to them, it can be a shocker. As well, there are some crummy ideas out and about about sexually transmitted infections, like the (false) idea that it means someone is dirty or unclean: if you've internalized those kinds of notions, you might be feeling lousier than you would otherwise. If you got Chlamydia in a partnership where your partner wasn't honest about their sexual history, or broke a monogamy agreement, those feelings of betrayal can obviously have a big effect in how we think about sex and sexual partnership.

Probably, you just need a little time to adjust your brain a bit to the now-very-real understanding that sex always is going to have possible positive AND negative outcomes, and that STIs are one of them. You may need to also just kind of rethink your own ideas about your body to better accept that illness, of all kinds, happens sometimes, and that Chlamydia hasn't actually changed anything about your body or your genitals. Sometimes any kind of illness can be a blow to our body image. If you had Chlamydia, you probably had unprotected sex: you might find that if you're still thinking about sex as without precautions -- and thus, the same level of risk -- it's more scary now that the risks are real. So, knowing that you're going to walk back into any sexual partnerships with safer sex as a given, and greatly reduced risks, might help, too.

We have a support forum for users who have or have had STIs and want to talk about it at our message boards here, if you'd like some extra support from others who understand where you're at.

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