Understanding the tests and how they are used for chlamydia is important. If you are having symptoms or been informed by a sexual partner that they have chlamydia you are probably wondering what the test is, how they are performed, and how the results are used. You don’t have to worry, the test is painless. 

What are the tests used?

  • direct fluorescent antibody stain –detects chlamydia antigens
  • DNA probe –less sensitive than NAAT, but shows chlamydia DNA
  • NAAT-this is the most popular way to test and shows the amplification of DNA present in chlamydia

Most of the tests are done by taking a swab of the vaginal area or the penis. Some can be done with urine. It is nothing painful so you do not need to worry about that. 

Why are these test used?

  • Diagnosis
  • Screening

Testing for both gonorrhea and chlamydia are done at the same time as they present similarly. Symptoms of chlamydia are close to gonorrhea so it is important to get a correct diagnosis as each one requires different medication.

When is testing ordered to be done?

A doctor will order the test for chlamydia if any of the symptoms are present or if a patient tells the doctor that they were notified by a partner that they have it. However, many people do not show symptoms so several agencies recommend screening.  

People at higher risk for chlamydia

  • Having had it before
  • Having other STDs or HIV
  • Multiple or new sexual partners
  • Not using condoms or not using them correctly
  • Being a prostitute
  • Illegal drug use
  • Are in prison
  • Men who are gay 

Pregnant women should be tested during their first prenatal visit and again in the third trimester especially if they are at a higher risk.

What the results mean

A positive result means that the infection is present and active and requires antibiotics. A negative result only shows that there is no evidence of disease or infection present at the time of the test. 

If you had a positive result, your partner(s) should also be tested and treated so that you do not pass it back and forth to each other, or other people. Those who are at a higher risk should be screened regularly since re-infection is common especially with teenagers. 

How long does it take to get test results

Depending on the test used, you could get the results in several hours to 5 or 6 days. 

In order to avoid getting chlamydia or prevent re-infection is to either abstain from all sex or have one long-term partner. Regular proper use of condoms can help reduce the risk of infection. 

What else should you know

People who have chlamydia develop a higher risk contracting other sexually transmitted diseases and 3 to 5 times greater risk for HIV.

Having chlamydia while pregnant can cause premature birth, or you can pass it on to the baby during birthing.