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How to Test for Chlamydia: What You Need to Know

Medically reviewed by Neka Miller, PhD on December 3, 2019. Written by Caitlin Boyd. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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The CDC estimates that nearly 2 million people in the United States have chlamydia [1]. This sexually transmitted infection (STI) can spread rapidly since many people with chlamydia don't realize they have it.

That’s why it’s important to know how to test for chlamydia. (The Everlywell Gonorrhea & Chlamydia Test allows you to test in the privacy of your own home. If you receive a positive result from this at-home chlamydia test, you have the option to connect with a physician in our network who may prescribe medication.)

Read on to find out more about chlamydia testing—plus who is at risk for infection, symptoms, and more.

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What Is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria [2], which spread through anal, vaginal, or oral sex. Both men and women can be infected with chlamydia.

Many people confuse chlamydia with a gonorrhea infection. Both infections are caused by bacteria and are spread through sexual contact. The Everlywell at-home test checks for both gonorrhea and chlamydia bacteria.

Who Is At Risk for Chlamydia?

Any sexually active person can become infected with chlamydia bacteria [3]. Younger people and people with several sex partners may be at a higher risk of contracting an STI, including chlamydia.

Additionally, mothers with STIs like chlamydia can transmit the infections to their babies [4]. If you're expecting a baby, speak with your healthcare provider for more information about chlamydia and gonorrhea test options.

Practicing safe sexual intercourse methods can help prevent the spread of many STIs, including chlamydia. Using condoms can reduce your risk of contracting the infection. However, you can still get chlamydia even if you take precautions. Routine STI tests are important for anyone who is sexually active.

If you are experiencing symptoms of gonorrhea or chlamydia, it may be a good idea to get tested as soon as possible (and speak with your healthcare provider).

Many people put off getting tested until they develop symptoms. But keep in mind that chlamydia is often asymptomatic [5]. Even if you feel healthy, you might carry a chlamydial infection and pass it on to others. Knowing your STI status is important to help you and your sex partner (or partners) avoid infection. With our Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Test kit, it’s easy to get tested from the comfort and privacy of your home.

What Are the Symptoms of Chlamydia?

Chlamydia symptoms can vary between women and men [6].

Women may experience:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain

Men may notice:

  • Discharge from the penis
  • Burning or itching around the penis
  • Painful or swollen testicles

Both men and women may have other symptoms, including:

  • Rectal pain, itching, or bleeding
  • Pain while urinating
  • Fever

Because people with chlamydia don’t always have symptoms, it’s important to test for STIs (with a gonorrhea and chlamydia home test kit, for example) to know your status. (Read more on how to test for STDs, including where to get an at-home STD test and the sample types that are used.)

How Do You Get Tested for Chlamydia?

If you're wondering how to test for chlamydia safely, here are several ways you can do so. Depending on your medical history and health concerns, your healthcare provider may suggest more than one test to see if you have a sexually transmitted infection. A panel might require a blood test, genital swab, or urine sample.

While chlamydia isn't a bloodborne disease, blood tests can determine whether you have chlamydia antibodies, which can reveal current or past chlamydia infections.

A penile or vaginal swab is another method your healthcare provider may use to test for STIs. For this type of test, your doctor uses a cotton swab for specimen collection.

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Will Chlamydia Show Up in a Urine Culture?

Yes, chlamydia can be detected through a urine specimen, and it's a commonly used sample for testing. In fact, you can use a urine sample to test for Chlamydia trachomatis at home. With the Everlywell Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test, you simply urinate in a collection cup and place your urine specimen in the mail. Your sample is then tested in a CLIA-certified laboratory. The lab that tests your sample uses molecular testing techniques—known as nucleic acid amplification tests—which identify the DNA of gonorrhea and chlamydia in your sample.

What If My Results Are Positive?

The Everlywell Chlamydia & Gonorrhea test includes an easy-to-understand lab report. But if you're not sure how to read your chlamydia test results, your healthcare provider can help.

A positive STI test result can be unsettling, but you aren’t alone: with the Everlywell Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test, you have the opportunity to speak with a physician in our network to discuss your results further if you test positive—and you may be prescribed medication.

If your chlamydia test is positive, STI testing is recommended for your sex partner(s) [7]. If they are infected and don't receive treatment, they can pass the chlamydial infection back to you.

Common Questions

Am I At Risk for Chlamydia?

You may face an increased risk of chlamydia (and other STIs) if you have unprotected sex or have multiple sex partners. However, there are other risk factors besides these, so talk with your healthcare provider if you want to know more about your risk and what it could mean for your sexual health. And don't forget: when it comes to prevention and risk-reduction, regular STI screening can be a great place to start.

Should I Get a Chlamydia Test?

It can be a good idea to screen for chlamydia and other STIs if you’re considering having sexual intercourse with a new partner. If you believe you have been exposed to chlamydia or are experiencing symptoms (like pain, itching, or swelling around your genitals), consider screening for infection by visiting a local clinic⁠—or take a chlamydia test at home.

Also, according to the CDC, if you're a sexually active woman younger than 25, you should test for chlamydia and gonorrhea at least once a year [8]. You should also get tested yearly if you're 25 or older and have risk factors like new or multiple sex partners. The CDC also recommends annual gonorrhea and chlamydia testing for gay and bisexual men.

How Do They Test for Chlamydia in Males?

A screening test for chlamydia infection in men is typically done through a blood sample, genital swab, or a urine test by a healthcare provider. A urine test can also be done in the privacy of your home using the Everlywell at-home Gonorrhea and Chlamydia test kit. Discover our Men's STD Testing Kit, which checks for 6 sexually transmitted infections, and take control of your sexual health with ease.

How Do They Test for Chlamydia in Females?

Chlamydia testing for women is sometimes done using a cervical swab. During a pelvic exam, a healthcare professional gently collects a sample from the cervix using a cotton swab. These samples are then sent to a laboratory for analysis. For added convenience and privacy, you can also opt for a chlamydia urine test. Everlywell offers an at-home Gonorrhea and Chlamydia test kit, allowing you to collect a urine sample in the comfort of your own home. Explore our Women's STD Testing Kit, which checks for 6 sexually transmitted infections, and take a proactive approach to your sexual health.

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 [9]. Both men and women can experience fertility problems after a chlamydia infection. Your risk of infertility increases if you delay treatment.

Women with untreated chlamydia or gonorrhea can also develop a condition known as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) [10]. 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 labor—and pregnant women with chlamydia can spread the infection to their babies during delivery [11]. (Find out more about STDs in women)

Prompt treatment reduces your risk of complications, as undiagnosed or untreated 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. However, chlamydia can come back even after treatment in some cases, which is why consistent testing is recommended.

Learning more about the different types of STDs someone can get—like chlamydia—can 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.

How Is Chlamydia Prevented?

The most effective way to prevent an infectious disease like Chlamydia trachomatis is by engaging with only one sexual partner who is not infected and only has sex with you. Additionally, condoms, when used consistently and correctly during sexual activity, offer effective protection against chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

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