Getting the Nerve
I had finally talked myself into getting on birth control at the age of 24, after being told for about 11 years that it would benefit me in more ways than one. The most obvious of benefits would be the prevention of pregnancy, while other benefits included a more bearable menstrual cycle. So, I called my local health department, and made the appointment to feel violated by a doctor.
I was prepared for the inevitable talks about the importance of condoms and such, so it wasn't much of a surprise when they asked me if I used them. I was compelled to be honest. I told them I used them on occasion, less often than I should. At that point, they informed me that they would have to do a pregnancy test before they could get me on any form of birth control. The test was negative, all systems were go.
We went through the usual exam, legs up in the air, doctor with her face too close to my vagina for comfort. She said everything looked fine, but if the tests came back with anything unusual, they would call. If I didn't hear from them, everything came back fine.
The Phone Call
I was at a friend's house when I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. I answered it, hoping it was a potential job. It was the health department. The second she said where she was calling from, my heart dropped into my gut. I just kept thinking to myself that they had told me they wouldn't call unless something was unusual.
She nonchalantly told me that I had Chlamydia, and that I needed to come in and take some antibiotics to get rid of it. I hung up the phone and held back tears as I called my friend into the room to tell her what just happened. She comforted me as much as she could. I just kept telling her that I felt so dirty.
I set up the appointment and while I waited to go to the doctors, I frantically searched the internet for information about Chlamydia. Lucky for me, it was one of the curable ones. Unfortunately for me, it can have some major long term affects. I found out that Chlamydia can cause scarring of the uterus that can cause infertility. I was absolutely devastated.
My lifelong goal was to have a family, to become pregnant and have children with my future husband. That dream was shattered to me. I had no idea where I had gotten it, or how long I'd had it. The last time I had a pap smear was at the age of 18. For all I knew, I could have had it for 6 years!
I made it to the health department, and I sat waiting to see the nurse with her miracle drug that would make this nightmare disappear. She gave me 2 large pills and a glass of water. She handed me a pamphlet and was about to push me out the door. I stopped and asked her if they provided free condoms. She handed me 2 lunch size paper bags filled with them and proceeded to scoot me out of the room.
At this point, I knew I had to call each and every one of the partners I'd had that I could get a hold of to inform them that they needed to get tested. That was the most humiliating thing that I've ever had to do. Not only did I have to admit to many, many men that I had an STI, but I also had to face the fact that I had slept with many, many men! Each and every one, at some point, had sex with me without protection. How could I be so stupid?!
"Never again", I told myself. From that day forward, any time things start to get heated, the condoms come out. I got lucky that this one was treatable. Next time it could have been much worse, but I won't make that mistake twice.