Get SUM facts: STD/STI, or… beets?

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So your pee usually comes out yellow(ish) and your stool comes out brown(ish), but there is one color we just do not want to see in either of them–red.  Passing red can certainly be worrisome, making you think about hematuria, internal bleeding, a UTI, or some STD/STI.

But this may actually not be anything serious.  In fact, this may just be something you ate: Beets.

beets

Beets are very nutritious vegetables, full of folate, manganese, potassium, and antioxidants that help strengthen your immune system. [1]

In addition, beet roots contain a chemical called betacyanin, or the red beetroot pigment, which some people cannot biologically breakdown.  The betacynanin would then pass in your urine (also known as “beeturia”) or in your stool, giving it a red/pink coloring which can easily be mistaken as blood but is not known to be harmful.  Research has not shown any strong correlation between breaking down the pigment and hereditary genes, and much is still to be understood about various factors, such as stomach acid levels, that could influence betacyanin metabolism [2, 3].

So if you see red next time you relieve yourself, it may not be a sign of an STD/STI or internal bleeding, but rather just your body getting rid of that betacyanin from beets.  Phew!

Please note: This article is by no means a substitute for medical advice.  You should always contact a health professional if you are uncertain about your condition, and consumption of beets may not be the actual cause of your condition.  If you experience pain in urinating or in passing a stool, or if the color continues to persist after having stopped eating beets, you should contact your doctor immediately.
[1] The Effect of Beets on Bowels by Aglaee Jacob, Livestrong.com
[2] Mitchell, S. C.. Food Idiosyncrasies: Beetroot and Asparagus. 2001
[3] Why isn’t beetroot dye broken down by digestion? The Naked Scientist. 2009.

Get SUM Facts: Chlamydia

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Coach Carr Chlamydia

Thanks for the tip, Coach Carr, but I think we need to clear some things up….  Let’s take a look at what chlamydia actually is:

Chlamydia is a bacterial STD.  In fact, it’s the most reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the U.S.. You won’t get chlamydia just from touching someone (sorry, Coach Carr), but you can get it through anal, vaginal, or oral sex, even if the male doesn’t ejaculate!  It can also be transmitted to an infected pregnant woman’s baby.

What’s real scary is that symptoms often don’t occur, or if they do, they occur weeks after you’ve been exposed.  Whoa.  Females might experience abnormal vaginal discharge or burning while urinating  Males might have discharge from their penis or burning while urinating.  Anal infections may lead to rectal pain/discharge/bleeding.

Chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease for females, which can also lead to fertility complications.  Complications are rarely caused for males.  Testing is encouraged for anyone who is sexually active.

But fear not!  It can be treated. Whew. With antibiotics, chlamydia can be treated and cured. And you probably won’t die (sorry again, Coach Carr).  Wearing condoms can reduce the risk of getting or giving it, too. Woo hoo!

So there you have it. Stay safe, stay informed, and Go Blue!

Here’s a video from the CDC, “What You Need to Know About Chlamydia” that summarizes the key points about it:

[Source: CDC Chlamydia Fact Sheet]