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Chlamydia; Lifestyle Tips.

Prevent pelvic inflammatory disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, occurs when untreated infection, often a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia, spreads to the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. Although many women have mild or nonexistent symptoms, some notice pain in the lower abdomen, vaginal discharge or bleeding, painful intercourse, nausea and vomiting and fever. Untreated PID can lead to tubal infertility, chronic abdominal pain or ectopic pregnancy. Twenty percent of women with PID caused by chlamydia, for example, will become infertile; 18 percent will have severe abdominal pain; and nine percent will have tubal pregnancies. To prevent PID, make sure your partners are screened for STDs, particularly chlamydia and gonorrhea, at least once a year, limit the number of sex partners you have, and use condoms every time you have sex.

Take precautions for oral sex

Although unprotected oral sex is assumed to be safer than unprotected anal sex or vaginal intercourse, it is no guarantee of protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Most sexually transmitted diseases can be spread via oral sex. To protect yourself, make sure your partner uses a condom if you're performing oral sex; if he's performing oral sex on you, or if you're having oral sex with a woman, use a dental dam, a flat piece of latex used during dental procedures. You can get them in some medical supply stores. They provide a barrier between the mouth and the vagina or anus during oral sex. Household plastic wrap or a split and flattened, unlubricated condom can also be used if you don't have a dental dam. Also, don't brush or floss your teeth right before having oral sex. Either may tear the lining of your mouth, increasing your exposure to sexually transmitted pathogens.

Practice the best protection

After abstinence, the best protection against any type of sexually transmitted disease is a latex condom. However, it doesn't provide 100 percent protection against STDs -- only abstinence does. If you use a condom, make sure you use it properly. Human error causes more condom failures than manufacturing errors. Use a new condom with each sexual act (including oral sex). Carefully handle it so you don't damage it with you fingernails, teeth or other sharp objects. Put the condom on after the penis is erect and before any genital contact. Use only water-based lubricants with latex condoms. Ensure adequate lubrication during intercourse. Hold the condom firmly against the base of the penis during withdrawal, and withdraw while the penis is still erect to prevent slippage.

Get tested for STDs

No single test screens for all STDs. Some require a vaginal exam and Pap smear; others a blood or urine test. A negative test does not always ensure you do not have an infection. Still, it's important to ask your health care provider to regularly test you for STDs if you're sexually active in a non-monogamous relationship (or have the slightest concern about your partner's fidelity). You can get tested at your health department, community clinic, private doctor or Planned Parenthood. Or call the CDC's National STD and AIDS hotlines at 1-800-227-8922 or 1-800-342-2437 for free or low cost clinics in your area.

Know whether you have an STD

While some STDs are accompanied by symptoms such as sores/ulcers or discharge, most, unfortunately, have no symptoms. You can't always tell if you or a partner has an STD just by looking. Don't rely on a partner's self reporting and assume that will prevent you from acquiring an STD; many infected persons do not know they have a problem. They may think symptoms are caused by something else, such as yeast infections, friction from sexual relations, or allergies. So educate yourself about your own body and, in turn, learn about your own individual risk for contracting an STD. One way to do this is to schedule an examination with a health care provider who can sit down with you and help you learn the principles for staying safe and sexually healthy. Don't allow fear, embarrassment or ignorance to jeopardize your future.

Talk to your children about STDs

Sexually transmitted diseases are particularly common among adolescents. And it's an issue kids are concerned about. As many as seven in 10 young people say they worry personally about HIV/AIDS and other STDs, as well as unintended pregnancy. As a parent, you can play a large role in an adolescent's behavior, both in terms of the behavior you model yourself, and in terms of the communication between you and your teen. Make sure your daughter has regular visits with a competent gynecologist, and that your son sees a medical professional who specializes in adolescent health at least once a year, if for nothing else than to talk about STDs and pregnancy. And talk to your kids. Study after study proves that when parents talk to their kids about sexual issues, their kids listen. Don't worry that talking about sex is the same as condoning it; numerous studies dispute that theory. In fact, studies show that when parents talk about sex, children are more likely to talk about it themselves, to delay their first sexual experiences and to protect themselves against pregnancy and disease when they do have sex.


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Facts & Answers about STDs: Chlamydia. " American Social Health Association. Accessed October 2001.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2002). Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines 2002. MMWR, 2002, 51(No. RR-6).

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Tarja A. et al. "Serotypes of Chlamydia trachomatis and Risk for Development of Cervical Squamous Cell Carcinoma" JAMA 2001;285: 47-51.

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Keywords: chlamydia, pelvic inflammatory disease, pid, sexually transmitted diseases, condom, std
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Publication:NWHRC Health Center - Chlamydia
Date:Sep 14, 2005
Previous Article:Chlamydia; Key Q&A.

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