No one wants to find out they have chlamydia or any other STD (sexually transmitted disease), for that matter. So many don’t get tested at all.
But new research may give people a better reason to keep chlamydia at bay. In the near future, experts might start warning women that chlamydia could increase their risk for cancer.
According to a recent study, this common infection could actually double the risk for ovarian cancer, NBC News reports.
The research was conducted by scientists from the National Cancer Institute and pulled its data from two different studies.
In total, the studies involved more than 400 women with ovarian cancer and over 700 without ovarian cancer.
According to the NBC News report, when researchers compared patients’ history of chlamydia with ovarian cancer, they found an interesting relationship.
They discovered that those in the ovarian cancer group had an increased number of previous chlamydia infections. By comparison, other infections like herpes didn’t seem to have the same relationship.
Because causes of ovarian cancer are largely unknown, this new discovery may be a turning point in helping ovarian cancer patients.
Researchers from the National Cancer Institute will give their findings from the recent study at the American Association for Cancer Research in April.
More About Chlamydia
While you might not hear your friends and neighbors talking about their chlamydia problem, this STD affects a lot of Americans.
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported over 1.5 million cases in that year alone. Unfortunately, that’s a rate which has been spiking ever since the year 2000.
How do so many people get it? Chlamydia is an STD that’s caused by bacteria and can infect both men and women.
According to the US National Library of Medicine, you can easily get the STD by having intercourse with another infected person. That includes oral, vaginal or anal intercourse.
Also, men and women are affected similarly—men often get infected in the throat, urethra or rectum. Women usually present infection in the throat, rectum or cervix.
Think your partner would let you know? People might not always be as willing to share that information as you might think.
Plus, the CDC mentions that many women won’t even show symptoms, making chlamydia difficult to diagnose without testing. You could become infected unknowingly if you have intercourse with someone who has undiagnosed chlamydia.
What to Expect
If you do happen to get symptoms, a few that you might experience are: an abnormal, sometimes strong-smelling discharge, pain during intercourse and a burning sensation while urinating.
The good news about this common STD is that it can be cured. Once it’s diagnosed, you’ll likely be given an antibiotic to fight off the Chlamydia bacteria.
What you should know is that the medicine may take some time to work. The CDC mentions that you may need to abstain from sex for up to seven days to protect your partner from infection.
Who’s at Risk?
Several sources including the CDC and US National Library of Medicine attest that women are most at risk. In fact, it’s common for young, sexually active women under age 25 to get infected.
Women also have a greater risk for complications if they’re left untreated. With enough time, chlamydia can spread to a woman’s reproductive system and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). In turn, PID can lead to permanent reproductive damage, causing problems for women wanting to get pregnant.
Of course, anyone can contract the infection if they have intercourse with an infected partner. Having intercourse with multiple partners and having unprotected sex will increase the risk as well.
The best course of action for preventing and diagnosing chlamydia is to play it safe. Monogamous relationships and protected sex will help in these efforts, and anyone who is sexually active should get tested for STDs every year. That way, you can protect yourself and your partner as well as get treatment right away when it’s needed.