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Chlamydia infection screening

Chlamydia is a common STD that can infect both men and women. It can cause serious, permanent damage to a woman’s reproductive system. This can make it difficult or impossible for her to get pregnant later on. Chlamydia can also cause a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy that occurs outside the womb).

Who is at risk

  • Being sexually active before age 25
  • Multiple sex partners within the past year
  • Not using a condom consistently
  • History of prior sexually transmitted infection

Symptoms

  • An abnormal vaginal discharge
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Painful intercourse
  • Bleeding between periods and after sex

What you can do

The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting chlamydia:

  • Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results.
  • Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex.

Preventive service at no cost

Sexually Active Women

The USPSTF recommends screening for chlamydia in sexually active women age 24 years and younger and in older women who are at increased risk for infection.


Why screening is important

Chlamydia trachomatis can be associated with:

  • Other sexually transmitted infections
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Infections in newborns - the chlamydia infection can pass from the vaginal canal to your child during delivery, causing pneumonia or a serious eye infection
  • Reactive arthritis

What the screening is

Your doctor may ask you to provide a urine sample or may use (or ask you to use) a cotton swab to get a sample from your vagina to test for chlamydia.

Treatment

Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. With treatment, the infection should clear up in about a week or two. It is important to finish all of your antibiotics even if you feel better.

Women with severe chlamydia infection may require hospitalization, intravenous antibiotics (medicine given through a vein), and pain medicine.

Additional tips

If you’re in a sexual relationship with an infected person, you could get chlamydia again even if you've just completed treatment.