If you are a sexually active woman under the age of 24 you most likely need STD screening. A federal task force is suggesting that STD screening should be regularly done in all American women who are sexually active. Gonorrhea and chlamydia often don’t have any symptoms.
What is the risk of undiagnosed chlamydia or gonorrhea? Pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain (with bowel movements or with intercourse).
How common is chlamydia and gonorrhea? The United States has more than 1.4 million cases of chlamydia and 800,000 gonorrhea infections yearly.
Women and men can now be screened for the diseases with simple urine tests. And, all 50 states allow minors to get treated for STDs without parental permission. (This, of course, brings up all sorts of family dynamics and I will not address this issue at this time).
What are the risk factors?
- Age is a strong risk factor for both chlamydia and gonorrhea. Sexually active women aged 20-24 years have the highest infection rates, followed by women aged 15 to 19 years. Infection rates among men are highest between ages 20 and 24 years.
Women older than 24 are suggested to get screened if they’re at “special risk.”
- This includes having a new sexual partner,
- having more than one sex partner,
- inconsistent condom use,
- history of previous or co-existing STD,
- exchanging sex for money or drugs, or
- having a sexual partner infected with an STD.
What about men? There is not enough evidence to support routine screening for boys and men. Men more often have symptoms and thereby seek diagnosis and treatment, preventing serious complications. The guidelines do not mention gay or bisexual men who are higher risk of infection with STDs. In those men, both chlamydia and gonorrhea are linked to higher rates of infection with HIV ( the AIDS virus).
For more information, look into the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sexually transmitted disease guidelines.