I used a condom and still got chlamydia: a story

Here’s a story submission from an Ash customer that highlights how barrier methods, though they are a great way to have safer sex, is not 100% effective in preventing STIs.

The only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested! Read on below:      

I don’t know what’s worse—how I got chlamydia or how I found out that I got chlamydia.

My semester abroad in Valencia was the experience that most college students dream of. I lived with a lovely host family in an apartment in the center of the city. My best friend from home got herself into the same program, staying with the exact same family. It was basically a dream.

Another perk, shall we say, was that our host dad was a single father raising children with his separated wife. His kids would spend time with him for a few weeks, then at his wife’s, so we were able to experience family time as well as party time. In typical American Studying Abroad Energy, I said goodbye to respectability and started sleeping with my host dad. I get it, it sounds weird, but you would have too if you saw him! I managed to keep it a secret from my friend that we were hooking up time to time (or so I thought)…until it wasn’t anymore.

A study abroad fling turns a little funky

After a particularly drunken night out after watching a soccer (or fútbol) match with my host dad and friend, I woke up next morning, hungover, with my friend and my host father sitting at the edge of my bed. I scuttled up against the wall behind me and covered my body with my comforter.

“We have something we need to talk to you about,” she said.

“This is a little awkward,” he added.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“So…” My host father shifted his weight. “Has it been burning? When you pee?” I looked at my friend. I looked back at him. “Because it burns when I pee. And since I slept with both of you…”

“You’ve what?!” I clutched at the comforter. My friend avoided my eye-contact. My host father tried to project control.

“I just tested positive for clamidia.”

“Chlamydia,” my friend translated.

“I get it,” I said. “but we always use a condom…”

This is how I found out a condom doesn’t always prevent one from getting chlamydia. We were careful, but accidents happen. But don’t worry. this story ends up ok. I got tested, treated, and taken care of by an extremely nice (and handsome) Spanish nurse.

Lesson Learned: Get tested on the reg, because you never know what will happen

I get tested every six months at home since I’ve returned to the US. A kit from Ash comes to my door and I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. My results come back in days. It gives me peace of mind, because I can casually test myself occasionally and know what’s up with my body, without all the hassle of going to the doctor.

Barrier methods provide protection against STIs, but are not always 100% effective

Types of barrier methods that protect against STIs and the activities you can use them with

Condoms, inner condoms, dental dams, and gloves can protect by providing a barrier between skin and bodily fluids, but they aren’t always effective. And while birth control pills, patches, IUDs, and spermicides provide contraception, they do nothing to protect you against STIs. You can still contract STIs with skin to skin, or skin to bodily fluid contact. (Yes, even oral sex can put you at risk for an STI).

So technically, “safe sex” doesn’t exist, only “safer sex”. Our recommendation is that you get tested frequently. Since STIs are most often asymptomatic, the only way to know you have them is to be tested. Keep your friends, lovers, and study abroad parents safe–get tested with Ash!