Read About Chlamydia Testing
Overview of Chlamydia Tests
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis. It is a very common infection, contracted by an estimated 2.86 million Americans every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, it is the most frequently reported bacterial STD in the US. Chlamydia is often referred to as a silent infection, since many people have no symptoms. For these reasons, it is very important for anyone who is sexually active to have a regular STD screenings to test for chlamydia.
About chlamydia infections and how they happen
Chlamydia passes from person to person via sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. Most commonly, the bacterial infection affects the cervix, urethra or rectum, but infection can also occur in the throat during oral sex. Less commonly, infection can spread to the eye, generally as a person touches the eye area with hands that have been in contact with the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria. Additionally, pregnant women with chlamydia can transmit the disease to their infants during childbirth, which can cause complications that may include blindness and pneumonia.
About chlamydia symptoms
Chlamydia is asymptomatic in the majority of cases, which means that people who are infected very often show no signs or symptoms of the disease. In people who do experience symptoms, they can begin to appear anywhere from 2 days to 3 weeks or more after being infected with the Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria.
Symptoms in men may include:
- Itching or burning with urination
- Discharge from the penis
- Swelling and/or pain in one or both testicles
- Rectal pain or bleeding (with rectal chlamydia infection)
Symptoms in women may include:
- Itching, burning or pain during urination
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Abdominal pain
- Bleeding between periods
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Rectal pain or bleeding (with rectal chlamydia infection)
Who should get a test for chlamydia?
Early detection and treatment of chlamydia is essential to preventing the spread of the disease, as well as avoiding the complications this STD can cause over time. In women, untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can damage the reproductive organs, creating the potential for the development of serious, sometimes life-threatening pregnancy complications or infertility. Untreated chlamydia can also lead to reproductive system complications in men that can, in some cases, lead to sterility.
For these reasons, everyone who is sexually active should get screened for chlamydia and other STDs every year or two as part of a solid preventive healthcare plan. People with risk factors that increase their odds of contracting chlamydia should get tested more frequently. Since people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for nearly two-thirds of new chlamydia infections, they should be tested more frequently. People who have more than one sexual partner or are involved with someone who does, and men who have sex with men should also have a chlamydia test more often. Last but certainly not least, anyone who suspects that a current or past sexual partner may have chlamydia or has developed any or all of the symptoms listed above should get a test for chlamydia as soon as possible.
About Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
If you think you may have chlamydia, you would be wise to request a test for gonorrhea as well. Why is this recommended? Gonorrhea is another very common bacterial STD that can be acquired via the same types of sexual contact that can spread chlamydia. Its symptoms are quite similar to those of chlamydia, and it can result in many of the same complications when left untreated, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and the potential to be transmitted to and cause harm in infants as they travel through the birth canal. These and other similarities mean that it can be difficult to determine which of these bacterial infections is an issue in people who have symptoms or suspect exposure. Additionally, these two infections often go hand-in-hand, meaning that people who have one of these bacterial STDs often find that they have both.
The most common tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea are urine tests. Patients are asked not to urinate for 2 hours before a urine sample is taken. Once the sample is provided, it will be analyzed to determine whether or not bacteria is present in the urine. If your test is positive for either or both infections, treatment with antibiotics is the next step.
Both chlamydia and gonorrhea typically respond well to treatment, but it is important that you do not have sexual contact with anyone during your treatment period. That's because you may still be able to transmit chlamydia and/or gonorrhea to others during treatment or be re-infected by a partner who has one or both of these STDs. After your course of antibiotics has been completed, chlamydia and/or gonorrhea testing is typically repeated to make sure your infection has been entirely eliminated from your system. Once you have been given the all-clear by your doctor, you are free to safely resume sexual activity – provided any partner that may be infected has also been tested and, if necessary, treated.
It is important to note that people who have had these bacterial STDs and have been treated successfully do not become immune to these diseases, as can be the case with viral infections. That means that, should you be exposed to chlamydia or gonorrhea bacteria again after treatment, you can be re-infected. For that reason, regular screening tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea and other common STDs are recommended after treatment to ensure continued sexual health.
Lab Tests (A-Z)
Detects chlamydia in a urine sample
Detects chlamydia and gonorrhea in a urine sample
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