Parents & Teachers:
Information on Chlamydia & Teens
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD) in America and is most often seen in teens and young adults. It is a bacterial infection spread by vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. Most people do not have any symptoms that alert them that they have been infected, so they unknowingly pass it from partner to partner. It can be easily treated with antibiotics, but, if not treated, complications for women can include pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – a serious infection of the fallopian tubes and sometimes uterus, which can lead to abscesses in the fallopian tubes and scarring that may cause ectopic pregnancy and infertility. Widespread infections of the genital tract are rare in men, but can still contribute to infertility.
Risk factors for Chlamydia include having sex without using condoms, having a high-risk partner (such as someone who has many partners, a male who has sex with other men, injection drug users, and commercial sex workers), having multiple sexual partners, and participating in sexual intercourse before 18 years of age. Because the rates of infection are so high, it is recommended that all sexually active women under age 26 should be screened annually or whenever they have a new sexual partner.
Testing for females can involve a vaginal swab or urine test and, for males, a urethral swab or urine test. Unfortunately, a test cannot determine how long a person has had the infection and the longer the person has the infection, the more likely a person is to have serious complications.
The treatment for Chlamydia can be a one-dose treatment, if appropriate for the person and if they do not have allergies to the medication. Please note that the partner MUST be treated. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) does not require a follow-up test, but high-risk individuals who may have sex again with untreated partners should be retested.
It is important to know that having Chlamydia, HIV, or herpes makes it easier to get human papillomavirus (HPV) or for HPV to cause Pap smear abnormalities. Some diseases, like Chlamydia, are reportable to the public health department. This is important because sometimes there can be outbreaks of a sexually transmitted infection in a certain community, and the only way to reduce risk is to educate everyone and try to get everyone tested and treated. This infection really doesn't just affect one person, it can affect an entire community.
These facts suggest that all young people be encouraged to either not have oral, anal, or vaginal sex, or that they protect themselves by using condoms.