Although health authorities recommend all sexually active women ages 25 and under should be checked by their doctor annually for chlamydia, only 38 percent were screened last year, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
As a result, many women may unknowingly be harming their reproductive health, according to CDC officials.
“This new research makes it clear that we are missing too many opportunities to protect young women from health consequences that can last a lifetime,” said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, in a press release. “Annual chlamydia screening can protect young women’s reproductive health now and safeguard it for the future.”
Many people infected with chlamydia – the most commonly reported infectious disease – are unaware because they have no symptoms.
When a person does not receive medical treatment, chlamydia can cause chronic pelvic pain, infertility and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy, according to the CDC.
Chlamydia is not solely transmitted during sex. An infected mother can pass the disease to her baby during childbirth. Sexually active men are also at risk for chlamydia.
Some infected women may experience the following symptoms:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Burning sensation during urination
- Lower abdominal pain
- Low back pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Mid-cycle bleeding
Once someone tests positive for chlamydia, they need to be retested three months later, CDC officials recommend. If they have become reinfected, they can be treated with antibiotics.
“It is critical that health care providers are not only aware of the importance of testing sexually active young women every year for chlamydia infections, but also of retesting anyone who is diagnosed,” said Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention. “Chlamydia can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics, and retesting plays a vital role in preventing serious future health consequences.”
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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