Repeat Chlamydia Infections

A Burden to Women's Health


Women 14 to 24 years old have the highest rates of chlamydia, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI). Many women who get chlamydia once, often get it again—that is, they have a “recurring infection.” Yale researchers looked at how often young women were having recurring infections. They studied 411 teens at 10 community based clinics around Connecticut, including New Haven. They found that:

  • Over half of the participants had chlamydia
  • Of all chlamydia cases, over half were recurring infections
  • The average time for a recurring infection was 5 months

This shows that the rate of recurring infections among young women is higher than thought. This rate of infection is a public health concern because of chlamydia’s connection to:

  • the inability to have children
  • constant pelvic pain
  • pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • increased risk for HIV

    Bottom Line

Efforts to prevent recurring chlamydia infections in young women must be improved. Counseling should be provided at the time of a chlamydia diagnosis to prevent recurring
infections. Men should be tested to prevent them from infecting their partners.


Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that infects the urinary and reproductive organs. Symptoms may include painful urination, lower abdominal pain, vaginal discharge and pain during sex. However, most women do not have any symptoms.

Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection of the female reproductive organs (the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries).

Source: Linda Niccolai, Abby Hochberg; Kathleen Ethier; Jessica Lewis; Jeannette Ickovics. Burden of Recurrent Chlamydia trachomatis Infections in Young Women. Further Uncovering the “Hidden Epidemic” Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine 2007;161:246-251.

These findings confirm that we must do a better job of preventing reinfections in women. Behavioral interventions for women to reduce the number of sex partners and increase condom use is important. We need to do a better job with male partners: screenings, faster treatment, and partner notification strategies.

Linda Niccolai, PhD, Associate Professor, Yale School of Public Health

CARE Tips to Prevent Chlamydia

  • Use latex condoms to preventchlamydia and other STIs.
  • Any woman age 25 or younger should be tested for chlamydia every year.
  • If you test positive for chlamydia, get treatment at your local health center. And have all sexual partners tested and treated too.

Local Health Centers:

Fair Haven Community Health Center

Hill Health Center

Planned Parenthood

New Haven STD Treatment Clinic

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