Here’s a story from a real-life Ash customer. Entitled “I used a condom and still got chlamydia.” Enjoy!
I don’t know what’s worse—how I got chlamydia or how I found out that I got chlamydia.
Semester abroad in Valencia…
My semester abroad in Valencia was the experience that most college students dream of. The host family who let me stay with them was lovely and lived in an apartment in the center of the city. My classes were a joke, and I only had to be in school Tuesday-Thursday. And my best friend from home—who I grew up making friendship bracelets out of spaghetti with—finagled her way onto the exact same program, staying with the exact same family. It was basically a dream.
The second we got there, we left. This friend and I skied in the Swiss Alps, rode catamarans through the canals of Brugge while tasting centuries-perfected chocolates, rode camels through Casablanca, and ground down our voices while role-playing the fanatic futbol fans for our new home team, Valencia CF. They lost. But we went out drinking. It was probably the best night of our entire semester. Well… it was definitely the last best night.
At the bar, we found some of our compatriots (other fans of the home team) and they were determined to forget the day. Even more determined, they were determined that we forget. “They never lose to such a shitty team.” “The refs were bullshit.” “It was a fluke.” “I hardly remember getting to the bar, let alone leaving it. My friend filled in the details.
Finding out the news…
The next thing I remember is waking up 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’ve been sleeping with both of you…”
“You’ve been 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 got it,” I said. “but we used a condom…”
I used a condom and still got chlamydia….
It turns out a condom doesn’t always prevent one from getting chlamydia. This man wore a condom. Yet this didn’t mean that we all were in the clear for STIs. *Contraception, like a condom, doesn’t work all of the time, and if you perform oral sex without a condom, you can still get STIs*. But don’t worry. This story ends up ok. I got tested, treated, and taken care of by an extremely nice (and much more handsome) Spanish nurse.
Figuring out how to get tested for STIs in a foreign country, and admitting that I was the conspicuous, loud, and sex-crazed American that many of the Spanish people assumed I was, was nothing short of traumatizing.
Now, I get tested at home. Every six months. A kit from Ash comes to my door and I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. My results come back in days. And, I don’t even have to hear the news over the phone from an uncomfortable nurse. I hope that every person gets an opportunity to test like I do. And that they have a good semester abroad.
Condoms and STIs…
Contraception doesn’t protect you against STIs! Condoms and dental dams can protect by providing a barrier between skin and bodily fluids – but they aren’t always effective. And birth control pills, patches, and IUDs 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. STIs can be asymptomatic and the only way to know you have them is to be tested. So, to be as safe for your lovers, your study abroad host parents, or whomever you decide to sleep with as you can be – get tested with Ash.