Objective: To assess maturity indices, menstrual patterns, hormonal factors, and risk of adolescent genital tract infections.
Methods: Cross sectional study in three genitourinary medicine clinics. Females 17 years or less, within 5 years of menarche, or reporting oligo-amenorrhoea were screened for genital tract infections and menstrual cycle characteristics determined. The outcome measures were risk factors associated with chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV DNA) and bacterial vaginosis (BV), separately and pooled. Correlations between estrone-3-glucuronide (E3G) and pregnanediol-3α-glucuronide (P3G) hormone concentrations and chlamydia, HPV, and BV.
Results: Among 127 adolescents, HPV was present in 64.4% (95% CI: 54.5 to 74.3), BV in 33.9% (19.1 to 34.5), and chlamydia in 26.8% (19.1 to 34.5). Breast maturity, oligomenorrhoea, and older gynaecological age were associated with lower risk of all infections. After adjustment for calendar age, race, and behavioural factors, gynaecological age remained significant (OR = 0.7, 0.6–0.9; p = 0.008). Behavioural risk factors differed by infection. Smoking was protective for HPV (OR = 0.1, 0.0 to 0.9; p = 0.007), and a recent new partner for chlamydia (OR = 0.3, 0.1 to 0.9; p = 0.024). Sex during menses was associated with increased BV risk (OR = 3.3, 1.5 to 7.2; p = 0.003). Chlamydia was higher among adolescents who used emergency contraception (2.5; 1.1 to 5.9, p = 0.029) and lower among those using condoms at last sex (OR = 0.3, 0.1 to 0.9; p = 0.015). Among 25 adolescents not using hormonal contraceptives, 15 had disturbed or anovulatory cycles. Chlamydia risk was inversely associated with P3G concentrations (Mann-Whitney; p = 0.05).
Conclusions: Adolescents engaging in high risk behaviour at a young gynaecological age are susceptible to multiple infections. Adolescent clinical assessment should include gynaecological age.
- BV, bacterial vaginosis
- E3G, estrone-3-glucuronide
- GUM, genitourinary medicine
- HPV, human papillomavirus
- P3G, pregnanediol-3α-glucuronide
- PCR, polymerase chain reaction
- genital tract infections
- risk factors