Figures released every year continue to emphasise the fact that young people in the 16-24 age group are the most at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially chlamydia. Although raising awareness around young people and their associated risk is vital, especially considering the potential for complications associated with a chlamydia infection that is left untreated, this focus does exclude older generations who are of course at great risk of chlamydia infection if not practicing safe sex. Older generations are at risk of viewing chlamydia as a young people’s STI and not something they need to be wary of. Access the full statistics here.
Furthermore, this bacterial infection can be caught not only via unprotected vaginal and anal sex but even unprotected oral sex. Age is not the only factor and risk of chlamydia infection correlates directly with how many times one changes sexual partners. The more partners one has, the more likely they are to contract any STI.
Chlamydia in particular is often symptomless, so if those outside of the 16-24 age bracket become infected and if they do not consider their risk of contracting the infection as high, it is unlikely that they will discover the infection if present. Considering themselves potentially insusceptible to contracting this ‘young person’s’ infection is very harmful indeed. Yes, rates of this infection are higher among younger people but this only indicates that this group is the most affected by the infection. It also represents this group’s attitude towards safe sex potentially, however, on an individual basis the risk is of course the same for everyone. Once risky sexual activity is engaged in, whether you are having sex with a 23 year old or a 50 year old, the risk of infection is high where no condoms are used. This is especially the case with chlamydia considering the nature of this infection which is also called the silent condition. Men and women can carry this infection for years and never know they have it, spreading the infection all the while. In fact, and worryingly, most people who catch the infection will not have corresponding symptoms.
Leaving chlamydia untreated is dangerous considering the potential for infertility in women. For those who do experience symptoms, infected women might have an unusual discharge in appearance or smell, a burning sensation when urinating, nausea, pain in the genital area, bleeding or pain in the lower abdomen, and especially where these symptoms are experienced one to three weeks after a risky event. You can read more about chlamydia symptoms here. It is important to get tested for chlamydia and a range of other STIs for that matter if such symptoms are present. Despite how dangerous the infection is if left untreated, it is in fact a very curable one so symptoms or none, where unprotected sex has been engaged in, a test is required. For men, similarly it is vital to get checked if any discharge is noticed or burning sensations experienced, pain in the testes or inflammation in that area too should be brought to the attention of a health practitioner. Leaving the infection untreated in men can lead to inflammation of the prostate gland and epididymitis, which is inflammation of the outer wall of the testicles. This condition can also lead to infertility in men. Again, for men, there are often no symptoms and paranoia should set in where a risky event has occurred, not at the onset of symptoms that might not necessarily arrive with the infection, or ever. Getting tested is so simple; you only require a urine sample or a vaginal swab if you are a woman. This can be done at the local GUM clinic or online through services such as theGUMclinic.com.
Older people, outside of the statistically ‘high at risk’ group are often new to the dating scene, perhaps because of a failed marriage or long term relationship, and due to years of monogamy it is likely that they directly associate the spread of STIs with young people and, what they perceive to be, a blaze attitude towards sex. It is no wonder that older men and women who have sexual relationships with people of their own age feel impenetrable to infection but it is a fallacy and a dangerous way of thinking considering the side effects of these untreated infections. Where there are multiple sexual partners or unprotected sex, no one is safe. You can read more about staying safe here.
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