Finding and treating a silent infection

Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, with 1.4 million reported cases in 2011. Providence Health Plan believes it is imperative to screen all women at risk – especially younger women – for this often symptom-free disease, which can have devastating effects if left untreated.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force strongly recommends screening for chlamydial infection in all sexually active, nonpregnant young women age 24 or younger and in older nonpregnant women who are at increased risk.

The task force also recommends screening for all pregnant women 24 and younger and in older pregnant women who are at increased risk. A woman is at higher risk if she has partnered with someone new or has multiple partners.

Though some women may have symptoms, such as burning with urination or unusual discharge, many infected with chlamydia experience no symptoms at all. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, permanent damage to the fallopian tubes and, potentially, infertility.

As part of this recommended screening, consider taking a sexual history of adolescents and young women during preventive care visits, and perform a chlamydia screening for women prescribed contraceptives or those who report sexual activity.

To learn more about chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.