Get Tested

A friend recently complained to me that she had been regularly bleeding between periods. After asking her a few questions, I mentioned that bleeding between periods could be a symptom of Chlamydia.

I didn’t really think much before mentioning it because she had shared a lot of personal information with me and I thought I could speak freely with her. Despite asking for my opinion, she was offended by my suggestion that she might have a Sexually Transmitted Infection and accused me of calling her ‘dirty.’

That bothered me. Having an STI doesn’t make someone dirty and this kind of stigma is what keeps people from getting tested. STIs are not rare and having Chlamydia is not the end of the world.

Many people don’t realize that when they’re calling STIs dirty the likelihood is pretty damn high that the person they’re talking to has had one. STI stigma only causes further isolation and unnecessary shame to those who have had or currently have an STI. STIs don’t only happen to people in awareness campaigns. Health Canada stats are based on you and your peers.

This discussion sparked a feeling of deja vu because in the last few years I have had the same conversation with three different people.

Each of them actually had Chlamydia when they got tested. They’re the lucky ones who actually had symptoms since Chlamydia rarely has any symptoms and the majority of people don’t even know they have it. Untreated Chlamydia can develop into Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which is a painful and dangerous disease that can cause infertility in men and women. If caught early however, Chlamydia is completely treatable with painless antibiotics, as are many bacterial STIs.

Viral STIs like HIV, HPV, Herpes and Hepatitis B/C, are caused by a virus meaning once you have them, you have them for life. Treatments aren’t easy and having a viral STI shouldn’t be taken lightly, but contracting one doesn’t mean your life is over.

Knowing your status means you can be in better control of your health, outbreaks and physical reactions. You can better protect your current and future partners.

Ever wonder why Quebec has started pushing HPV awareness so hard?

Three reasons: the introduction of the vaccine, the drastic rise of HPV cases, and the low numbers of women getting pap tests.

Many people still don’t know that a pap test’s actual purpose is to check the cervix for abnormal cells caused by certain strains of HPV. HPV doesn’t always mean genital warts, the more common strains aren’t even related to warts but can cause cervical cancer.

If you get regular pap tests, you’ll likely find out if you have abnormal cells before any cancer-causing cells have progressed too far. Timing is everything and this should be a major incentive to get those annual pap tests.

My offended friend tested positive for Chlamydia and after getting treated she asked me to write about it. There are a lot of reasons why people don’t get tested–I get it. It can be scary and uncomfortable but it can also save you from future problems. I tell everyone I know to get tested because many people just aren’t hearing it elsewhere. I care that people are informed and know where to find support if they need it and you should too.

So tell your friends when you get tested or get a pap test and make talking about it and doing it the norm. You don’t need to tell them your results but sometimes just talking about it can make a huge difference.

Submit your questions anonymously at and check out “Sex & Pancakes” on Facebook. Need some extra help? You can always contact Concordia Counselling & Development at 514-848-2424 ext. 3545 for SGW and ext. 3555 for Loyola. Got a quick health question? Call info-santé at 8-1-1 from any Montreal number. Getting tested: Concordia Health Services SGW: 514-848-2424 ext. 3565 for SGW and ext. 3575 for Loyola.

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