Quality Insights: Clinical Quality in Primary Care

Women's Health:
Chlamydia Screening (Ages 21 to 24)

Healthcare quality measure: This measure looks at women 21 to 24 years of age who are sexually active (having sex). It shows the percent of those patients who had a chlamydia screening test during the past year.

Only women who are sexually active need to have chlamydia tests. Just because a woman is on birth control pills or has a pregnancy test does not mean she is sexually active. This fact can affect the scores for this measure. Sometimes a medical group scores low – even when doctors test most women who need chlamydia tests.

Reasons for this measure: Chlamydia is an infection that is easily spread through sexual contact. It is hard to know if you are infected with chlamydia because it has few symptoms. In fact, chlamydia has no symptoms in 3 out of 4 women who have it. Sometimes, the only way to know if a woman has chlamydia is with a screening test done as part of a routine health exam. A chlamydia screening is one of the best ways to find and treat it. A woman is no longer contagious (able to spread the infections) once she is treated for chlamydia. However, more than half of sexually active women are not screened.

Women with untreated chlamydia infections are at risk for many health problems. These problems include:

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
  • Increased chance of getting HIV
  • Increased chance of having cervical cancer
  • Pregnancy problems (not being able to get pregnant, or risk of dying during pregnancy)

The CDC estimates that 3 million people get Chlamydia each year. In 2009, there were 13,786 cases of chlamydia reported for women in Massachusetts.

Ways your doctor can help...

  • Let you know if you need a chlamydia screening test. This depends on your age, health, sexual activity, and family history. Young women who are sexually active are most at risk for having chlamydia.

Ways you can help...

  • Talk with a doctor about your risks of having chlamydia.
  • Make sure to have a routine health exam each year.

Ways to learn more...


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