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No one knows how long it takes for PID to infect and severely scar a woman, but even if it’s a year, that’s not very long, especially for girls who pick up chlamydia infections in high school. They could be infertile by the time they graduate, not unlike a young woman I know who learned at age 19 that, because of infections in her reproductive tract, she will not be able to conceive a child.

Sexually active young women should ask their doctors for a chlamydia test whether they “feel anything or not,” Ms. Maloney said.

Fred Wyand at the American Social Health Association added: Health care providers, please tell young female patients that “even though I’m not seeing you for your Pap maybe until age 21, I still need to talk with you about these other things.”

Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at