CDC: Women Under-Utilize Chlamydia Screenings

chlamydia screenings

According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sexually active women are not receiving screenings for chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease (STD), as often as they should. The announcement comes at a time when many Americans are concerned with contracting other STDs such as HPV, human papillomavirus, and the appropriate medical procedures for their prevention and vaccination.

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted disease that can be contracted by both men and women. However, woman that contract chlamydia can cause serious, permanent damage to their reproductive system, making it difficult or even impossible to get pregnant in the future. Chlamydia can also cause a potentially life threatening ectopic pregnancy, a pregnancy that occurs outside of the womb.

Individuals are at risk of contracting chlamydia by having anal, vaginal, or oral sex with an individual who already has chlamydia. In fact, if you are with a male sex partner you can still contract chlamydia even if he does not ejaculate. For individuals that have had chlamydia in the past and were treated, you can still contract the disease if you engage in unprotected sex with someone who actively has chlamydia.

Th Majority of Women Don’t Follow Screening Guidelines

In order to complete their study, researchers from the CDC looked at data regarding chlamydia testing for both teenage girls and young adult women. All of the data was gathered between 2006 and 2008, and was exclusive to U.S. women.

After analyzing the data, the researchers discovered that only 38% of sexually active women between the ages of 15 and 25 received a chlamydia screening in the past year. This falls very short of the CDC guidelines, which advise all women under the age of 25 to receive a chlamydia screening every single year.

The good news is that certain groups receive testing more frequently than the general population, including:

  • Women who are uninsured

  • Women who receive public insurance

  • Women with multiple sex partners

  • African-American women

The CDC regarded this news as positive because these are some of the groups that are historically most susceptible to chlamydia.

The CDC’s Guidelines for Retesting

In addition to their recommendation for yearly chlamydia testing, the CDC recommends that those who are infected with chlamydia receive an additional test approximately three months after the initial treatment. This allows the patient to receive an antibiotic in the event that they’ve been reinfected.

Unfortunately, an additional recent study indicates that retesting rates are well below where they should be as well. In fact, that study found that only 21% of women and 11% of men undergo a second chlamydia test within 30 to 180 days of the original diagnosis.

The Dangers of Chlamydia

Chlamydia is recognized as the most common bacterial STD among Americans, and younger individuals are infected more than those in older age groups. Those who have been infected with chlamydia rarely show any outward symptoms, making the disease difficult to detect.

As a result, chlamydia often goes untreated for several years after infection. This can lead to a number of severe health problems, such as chronic pelvic pain and even infertility.

According to Dr. Kevin Fenton, one of the lead researchers behind the CDC study, getting a chlamydia screening at least once per year is the best way to detect the disease earlier and treat it with an antibiotic before long-term consequences such as infertility set in.

Chlamydia Screenings: The Bottom Line

The CDC recommends that all women between the ages of 15 and 25 receive a yearly chlamydia test if they’re sexually active. Unfortunately, a recent study by the CDC shows that only 38% of sexually active women in this age category received a chlamydia screening in the past year. If chlamydia goes untreated, it can lead to infertility.

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