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How to test for chlamydia

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.

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 Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test allows you to test in the privacy of your own home. If you receive positive results, you have the option to connect with a physician in our network for more about your treatment options.

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 gonorrhea. Both infections are caused by bacteria and are spread through sexual contact. The Everlywell at-home test checks for both chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Who is at risk for chlamydia?

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

Pregnant women are also high-risk because mothers can transmit STIs to their babies [4]. If you're expecting a baby, speak with your healthcare provider for more information about testing options.

Safer sex 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.

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 the infection and pass it on to others. Knowing your STI status is important to helps you and your partner(s) avoid infection.

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 to know your status.

Testing 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. A STI panel might require a blood sample, 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 genital swab is another method your healthcare provider may use to test for STIs. For this type of test, your doctor uses a cotton swab to collect a sample.

You can also test for chlamydia at home with a urine sample. With the Everlywell Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test, you simply urinate in a collection cup and place your sample 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 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.

With the Everlywell Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test, you have the opportunity to speak with a physician to discuss your results further if you test positive—and you may be prescribed medication.

If your chlamydia test is positive, your sex partner(s) should also get tested [7]. If they are infected and don't receive treatment, they can pass the infection back to you.

Common questions

Should I get a chlamydia test?

If you believe you have been exposed to chlamydia or are experiencing symptoms (like pain, itching, or swelling around your genitals), consider taking a chlamydia test.

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 testing for gay and bisexual men.

Can chlamydia affect my fertility?

Chlamydia often causes scarring or inflammation to your 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].

Prompt treatment reduces your risk of complications, as undiagnosed chlamydia may put your health at risk. Most people who receive treatment for chlamydia make a full recovery.

Use the Everlywell at-home Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test to easily check for chlamydia from the comfort of home.