Back in high school, I rolled my eyes and laughed as the sex ed teacher told us we should always use condoms and to make sure we had regular testing for STDs. Pfft—as if I would ever get an STD! But then…
I had unprotected sex. When he didn’t take out a condom and put it on, I felt too awkward to ask him. I thought, well, he didn’t say anything, so maybe I shouldn’t either. I knew it felt better for him to not wear a condom and I didn’t want to be a prude or spoil the mood. I decided against bringing it up. I was on the pill and I wouldn’t get pregnant, so it was cool, right?
I wasn’t having sex with anyone but him. I felt a false sense of security in thinking that because I was only sleeping with one person at any one time, I was safe. I assumed he didn’t have any STDs when we met and that he wasn’t sleeping with anyone else either. Of course, I didn’t actually confirm either of these things by talking to him about it, which I know now was a rookie move.
A few months went by and nothing happened so I assumed I was fine. I was afraid of needles and I thought I would know if I had an STD. I had no symptoms, and if I had an STD, I would have some horrible rash, right? I was certain everything was cool. I was wrong.
I gave it to my new boyfriend. He came home and told me that he had the STD and I immediately insisted that there was no way he could have gotten it from me. However, he revealed that he’d had a sexual health checkup just a few days before we’d met and he was clean. I still couldn’t believe that I was infected given that I had no symptoms, but my boyfriend pointed out that chlamydia didn’t always have any symptoms. I immediately booked a checkup.
Unsurprisingly, they told me I had chlamydia. They asked me when my last sexual health checkup was and I admitted that it had been months. They couldn’t work out how long I’d been infected or the damage that leaving the infection untreated had done. They gave me a pill and I forgot about the whole ordeal the second I took it.
I got pregnant and had a miscarriage. A few days after I read the positive pregnancy test, I had pains not dissimilar to period pain. It worried me so I went to the hospital. In the end, I miscarried that pregnancy and the doctors told me that my fallopian tubes were twisted. Because of that, the fertilized egg couldn’t make it to my uterus. I wondered why this had happened to me and while the doctors couldn’t be certain, they assumed it was because of my untreated chlamydia. While I was told I could possibly get pregnant again, it would be incredibly difficult.
I had another miscarriage before I had a pregnancy that seemed like it would stick. The third time I got pregnant, everything seemed to be going well. My hormone levels were where they should have been, there was a little heartbeat, and the egg had made it to where it was supposed to be. I was so excited to be a mom.
I discovered something was wrong at the first ultrasound. Turns out, the egg had got stuck inside of my fallopian tube, so while the growing fetus was healthy, it wasn’t in the right place and the pregnancy had to be terminated. They also had to remove my “good” tube, meaning there’s no chance I’ll ever conceive naturally.
There are ways for me to carry a child but I don’t know if I’ll ever become a mom. It would have to be assisted by IVF, but right now, that’s beyond my financial means. Since I was a little girl, I always thought I would get married, have 2.5 kids and a home with a white picket fence. I still may have all of those things, but that dream feels a little less real to me now.
I’m angry at myself for not taking my sexual health more seriously. Never again will I be embarrassed to ask a partner to use a condom or to seek out care immediately if I sense anything is wrong. The embarrassment of asking my partner to wrap it up is a whole lot less embarrassing than explaining why I can’t have kids.
I encourage everyone I know to educate themselves and learn from my mistakes. Educate yourself. Find out about STDs by reading up and asking your doctor. Did you know that chlamydia is the most common STD amongst women under 25 or that it can be spread through oral sex as well as penetrative sex? Chlamydia is easily treated and there are no long-term consequences if it’s treated right away. So, whether you’re in a relationship or not, make a date on your calendar to get a sexual health check-up every few months. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
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