Who To Test For Chlamydia
Anyone with the following genital symptoms should not have sex until they see a healthcare provider:
- A burning sensation when peeing
- Unusual sores, or a rash
Because chlamydia usually has no symptoms, screening is necessary to identify most infections. Screening programs can reduce rates of adverse sequelae in women.31,41 CDC recommends yearly chlamydia screening of all sexually active women younger than 25. CDC also recommends screening for older women with risk factors, such as new or multiple partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection.40 Screen and treat those who are pregnant as noted in How does chlamydia affect a pregnant person and their baby? Women who are sexually active should discuss their risk factors with a healthcare provider to determine if more frequent screening is necessary.
Routine screening is not necessary for men. However, consider screening sexually active young men in clinical settings with a high prevalence of chlamydia. This can include adolescent clinics, correctional facilities, and STD clinics. Consider this when resources permit and do not hinder screening efforts in women.40
At the initial HIV care visit, providers should test all sexually active people for chlamydia. Test at least each year during HIV care. A patients healthcare provider might determine more frequent screening is necessary, based on the patients risk factors.42
What Does Chlamydia Do To Your Body
Although chlamydia doesnt usually cause any symptoms, it can be serious if you dont get treatment early on.
The bacteria can spread to your fallopian tubes and uterus. If this happens, it might cause pelvic inflammatory disease which results in abdominal and pelvic pain. Even if PID does not cause abdominal and pelvic pain, it can still do permanent damage to your reproductive system. PID can lead to an inability to get pregnant, long-term pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy.
What Health Problems Can Result From Chlamydia
The initial damage that chlamydia causes is often unnoticed. However, infections can lead to serious health problems with both short- and long-term effects.
If a woman does not receive treatment, chlamydia can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes, causing PID. Symptomatic PID occurs in about 10-15% of women who do not receive treatment.30,31 However, chlamydia can also cause subclinical inflammation of the upper genital tract . Both acute and subclinical PID can cause long-term damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues. The damage can lead to chronic pelvic pain, tubal factor infertility, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy.32,33
Some patients with PID develop perihepatitis, or Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome. This syndrome includes inflammation of the liver capsule and surrounding peritoneum, which can cause right upper quadrant pain.
In pregnant people, untreated chlamydia can lead to pre-term delivery,34 ophthalmia neonatorum , and pneumonia in the newborn.
Reactive arthritis can occur in men and women, following infection with or without symptoms. This is sometimes part of a triad of symptoms formerly referred to as Reiters Syndrome.35
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How To Get Tested
Chlamydia testing is usually ordered by a doctor. In people without symptoms, a doctor can evaluate their risk and suggest an appropriate screening schedule. If a patient has symptoms of this infection, a doctor will order testing to diagnose or rule out chlamydia.
Testing for chlamydia can be conducted at a hospital, doctors office, health clinic, or community health program.
When Is It Ordered
Because many infected people do not have any noticeable symptoms, a number of health organizations recommend regular chlamydia screening for certain people:
All sexually active women younger than age 25 and sexually active women age 25 and older who are at increased risk should get yearly screening for chlamydia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists . The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Academy of Pediatrics also recommend routine screening for these women .
Examples of risk factors for chlamydia infection include:
For pregnant women, the CDC recommends screening for chlamydia during the first trimester or first prenatal visit. For women younger than age 25 or at increased risk of infection, testing is repeated in the third trimester. Pregnant women diagnosed with chlamydia should be retested about 3 months after completing treatment.
Chlamydia testing may also be done when your sex partner has been diagnosed with chlamydia or when you have signs and symptoms of chlamydia.
For women, if symptoms occur, they may include:
For men, symptoms may include:
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How Can I Prevent Spreading Chlamydia
If you think you have chlamydia, the first thing you need to do is stop having sexual intercourse and get tested and treated. Ask your health care provider if you can get a prescription for your partner , or find out if your partner can be seen by a health care provider to get treated. Youll need to let all current and past sexual partners know that you have chlamydia . You may find this hard to do, but its very important so that those infected can get treated before more serious health problems occur.
You can let your sexual partner know in a couple of different ways:
- You can tell them face to face, over the phone, or via a text message.
- You can use an anonymous notification application, such as: an email from a reliable website such as bedsider.org. This website will send a confidential email card to your partner for free. Another website, inspot.org will send an anonymous text to your partner.
Research has shown that notifying your partner in real time or face to face is the best way to get your partner treated.
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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About A Chlamydia Test
Chlamydia testing can help you avoid lasting health problems and stop the spread of this disease. You can also take steps to protect yourself from getting chlamydia.
- Having sex with only one partner who has tested negative for STDs and who has sex only with you
- Using condoms correctly every time you have sex
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Availability Of Effective Treatment
A cohort study found that, compared to women whose chlamydia infection was detected after 20 weeks or persisted during pregnancy, women whose chlamydia was detected and treated before 20 weeks gestation had a reduced risk of preterm birth in the less than 20 year age group but there was no clear difference in risk for women in other age groups .
When Should I Get Chlamydia Testing
As most people infected with chlamydia do not experience symptoms, doctors rely on screening to detect most cases of chlamydia. Screening guidelines vary based on many factors, including a persons anatomy, health, and sexual practices. Regular screening for chlamydia is recommended for several groups:
Certain factors increase the risk of contracting chlamydia and may affect how often a person should be screened. Risk factors include having:
- Sex with a new partner
- More than one sexual partner or a partner who has sex with mutiple people
- A sex partner diagnosed with an STD
Testing for chlamydia is more frequently conducted in asymptomatic people in settings where infection rates are high, which often includes correctional facilities, adolescent health clinics, the military, and sexual health clinics.
Diagnostic chlamydia testing is recommended for anyone with signs or symptoms of this infection. When symptoms do occur, they may not appear until a few weeks after exposure. Signs and symptoms of chlamydia can vary based on the site of infection but may include:
- Burning during urination
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What Tests Can Detect Chlamydia
There are a few different tests that look for the presence of Chlamydia trachomatis, the bacterium that causes this STI. These tests can be performed if you have symptoms or as a routine screening if you are sexually active.
Healthcare providers and clinics may differ in which tests they prefer to use. The most common tests are nucleic acid amplification tests .
These can be run on a:
- Endocervical swab, which is a swab of the area around the opening of the uterus, or womb
- Vaginal swab, which is a swab of the walls of the
If you’ve been tested or treated for other STIs, don’t assume that chlamydia was included. Not only does chlamydia require its own test, but the treatments for some of the other STIs are ineffective against chlamydia.
Can Chlamydia Affect My Fertility
A chlamydia or gonorrhea infection may cause inflammation or scarring of the reproductive organs. Sometimes, this may lead to infertility . Both men and women can experience fertility problems after a chlamydia infection. Your risk of infertility increases if you delay treatment.
Women with untreated gonorrhea or chlamydia can also develop a condition known as pelvic inflammatory disease . PID sometimes causes your reproductive organs to swell, triggering chronic pelvic pain and making it difficult to conceive.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea can also trigger early laborâand pregnant women with chlamydia can spread the infection to their babies during delivery .
Prompt treatment reduces your risk of complications, as undiagnosed chlamydia may put your health at risk. Regular STI testing can help with early diagnosis of the infection, and most people who receive treatment for chlamydia make a full recovery.
Learning more about the different types of STDs someone can getâlike chlamydiaâcan help you care for your sexual health. To easily check for chlamydia from the comfort of home, simply collect a urine sample and send it to a lab with prepaid shipping using the Everlywell at-home Gonorrhea and Chlamydia test kit.
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How Is Chlamydia Diagnosed
There are two ways that a doctor or nurse tests for chlamydia:
- A urine test. This is the most common. You urinate into a cup. Your urine is then tested for chlamydia.
- A swab test. Your doctor uses a cotton swab to take a fluid sample from an infected place . The fluid is then tested for chlamydia.
A Pap test is not used to detect chlamydia.
When Should I Get Tested
Dont delay getting tested if you think you might have chlamydia. Being diagnosed and treated as soon as possible will reduce your risk of developing any serious complications of chlamydia.
You can get a chlamydia test at any time although you might be advised to repeat the test later on if you have it less than 2 weeks since you had sex because the infection might not always be found in the early stages.
You should consider getting tested for chlamydia if:
- you think you could have a sexually transmitted infection
- a sexual partner tells you they have an STI
- youre pregnant or planning a pregnancy
- youre offered a chlamydia test as part of the NCSP
If you live in England, youre a woman under 25 and sexually active, its recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year, and when you have sex with new or casual partners.
If you live in England, youre a man under 25 and sexually active, its recommended that you have a chlamydia test once a year if you are not using condoms with new or casual partners.
If you have chlamydia, you may be offered another test 3 to 6 months after being treated. This is because young adults who test positive for chlamydia are at increased risk of catching it again.
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Symptoms In The Throat
Chlamydia symptoms can sometimes appear in the throat, although this is uncommon. When it does occur, the time frame is likely to be similar to that of chlamydia infections of the genitals.
In people who experience symptoms, the main one is a persistent sore throat. A doctor may refer to a chlamydia infection in the throat as pharyngeal chlamydia.
Testing for chlamydia in the throat is not a common practice in STI testing, as it does not have approval from the Food and Drug Administration . However, if a person suspects that they have pharyngeal chlamydia, a doctor may take a swab from the throat.
A person can undergo testing for chlamydia at their:
- doctors office
- local health department
- local planned parenthood center
A person can also order a chlamydia test online, take it at home, and then send it off for testing.
If people are at high risk of chlamydia, they may need screening for all types of chlamydia every 36 months.
At risk groups include people who have:
- multiple or unknown sexual partners
- sex in combination with illegal drug use
- sexual partners who use illegal drugs or have multiple partners
7 days .
People should avoid having sex until their treatment is complete. If a person is experiencing symptoms even after the treatment, they should see a doctor.
People who menstruate should notice that their periods return to normal or that bleeding between periods stops by their next period.
How Long Does It Take To Show Up On A Test
There are several tests that you doctor might use to diagnose chlamydia:
- Urine test. Youll pee in a cup thats sent off to a laboratory testing facility to see if any chlamydia bacteria are present in your urine.
- Blood test. Your doctor will use a sterile needle to draw some of your blood and send it to a lab to see if antibodies to the chlamydia bacteria are present in your bloodstream.
- Swab. Your doctor will use a cotton round or stick to take a small sample of tissue or fluid that carries the infection, which is then sent to a lab to be cultured so that lab technicians can see what bacteria grows from the sample.
How long it takes for the results to show up depends on the test and on your specific health insurance plan.
- Urine tests take about 2 to 5 days to show a positive or negative result.
- Blood tests can come back with results in a few minutes if the blood is analyzed on site. But they can take a week or more if sent to an off-site lab.
- Swab results take about 2 to 3 days to show a positive or negative.
1 to 3 weeks to show up in people with vulvas.
Symptoms may take up a few months to show up. This is because bacteria are living creatures and have an incubation period that affects how long it takes them to cluster together and become infectious.
This incubation period is dependent on a variety of factors, including:
- how much of the bacteria you were exposed to
- how quickly the bacteria reproduce
- how strong your immune system is against the bacteria
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Chlamydial Infection Among Neonates
Prenatal screening and treatment of pregnant women is the best method for preventing chlamydial infection among neonates. C. trachomatis infection of neonates results from perinatal exposure to the mothers infected cervix. Initial C. trachomatis neonatal infection involves the mucous membranes of the eye, oropharynx, urogenital tract, and rectum, although infection might be asymptomatic in these locations. Instead, C. trachomatis infection among neonates is most frequently recognized by conjunctivitis that develops 512 days after birth. C. trachomatis also can cause a subacute, afebrile pneumonia with onset at ages 13 months. Although C. trachomatis has been the most frequent identifiable infectious cause of ophthalmia neonatorum, neonatal chlamydial infections, including ophthalmia and pneumonia, have occurred less frequently since institution of widespread prenatal screening and treatment of pregnant women. Neonates born to mothers at high risk for chlamydial infection, with untreated chlamydia, or with no or unconfirmed prenatal care, are at high risk for infection. However, presumptive treatment of the neonate is not indicated because the efficacy of such treatment is unknown. Infants should be monitored to ensure prompt and age-appropriate treatment if symptoms develop. Processes should be in place to ensure communication between physicians and others caring for the mother and the newborn to ensure thorough monitoring of the newborn after birth.
How Chlamydia Is Treated
Chlamydia can usually be treated easily with antibiotics.
If you have doxycycline, you should not have sex until you and your current sexual partner have finished treatment.
If you have azithromycin, you should wait 7 days after treatment before having sex .
It’s important that your current sexual partner and any other recent sexual partners you have had are also tested and treated to help stop the spread of the infection.
Under-25s who have chlamydia should be offered another test 3 to 6 months after being treated.
This is because young adults who test positive for chlamydia are at increased risk of catching it again.
Sexual health or genitourinary medicine clinics can help you contact your sexual partners.
Either you or the clinic can speak to them, or they can be sent a note advising them to get tested.
The note will not have your name on it, so your confidentiality will be protected.
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How Does Chlamydia Affect A Pregnant Woman And Her Baby
In pregnant women, untreated chlamydia has been associated with pre-term delivery,34 as well as ophthalmia neonatorum and pneumonia in the newborn. In published prospective studies, chlamydial conjunctivitis has been identified in 18-44% and chlamydial pneumonia in 3-16% of infants born to women with untreated chlamydial cervical infection at the time of delivery.9-12 Neonatal prophylaxis against gonococcal conjunctivitis routinely performed at birth does not effectively prevent chlamydial conjunctivitis.37-39
Screening and treatment of chlamydia in pregnant women is the best method for preventing neonatal chlamydial disease. All pregnant women should be screened for chlamydia at their first prenatal visit. Pregnant women under 25 and those at increased risk for chlamydia should be screened again in their third trimester. Pregnant women with chlamydial infection should be retested 3 weeks and 3 months after completion of recommended therapy.40