Chlamydia Testing and Treatment Options


Danielle Brockman

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Chlamydia is the most commonly spread sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States and is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. While people who are infected sometimes have symptoms such as burning during urination or abnormal genital discharge, in many cases, people have no symptoms at all. If you are sexually active, it’s important to understand the infection—and your status—in order to keep yourself and your partners healthy.

How does the chlamydia test process work?

Doctors use a chlamydia test to diagnose the cause of symptoms and to screen sexually active people and expectant mothers. One specific test called a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) is the most sensitive and accurate test and can be performed using urine from the patient. Otherwise, your provider may obtain a painless swab sample from your penis, cervix, urethra or anus.

Who should be tested?

Since many people don’t show symptoms of infection, anyone who is sexually active should be routinely screened for chlamydia and other STIs. It’s vital that women who are pregnant be tested early in pregnancy since chlamydia can lead to miscarriage or infect the baby before or during delivery, causing serious and even life-threatening health issues.

Infections occur most often in people under age 25 who have had two or more sex partners in the previous year. You may be at increased risk of contracting chlamydia if you:

  • Are a young female
  • Have had chlamydia before
  • Have new or multiple sex partners
  • Have other STIs, specifically HIV
  • Are inconsistent with using STI protective measures such as condoms
  • Work in the sex industry
  • Live in a detention facility
  • Are a male who has intercourse with other men

Early diagnosis is vital in reducing the risk of developing other serious complications like infertility and to help minimize spreading the disease to others.

How is chlamydia treated?

Chlamydia is a very treatable infection, especially with a prompt diagnosis. Treatment plans generally include antibiotics such as:

  • Azithromycin
  • Doxycycline
  • Erythromycin

It’s important to complete the entire treatment plan your provider recommends in order to clear the infection completely.

How can I prevent being infected or spreading infection?

You may be able to lower your risk of contracting and spreading chlamydia by:

  • Being tested for STIs before and after every new sexual partner
  • Engaging with a partner monogamously who has also tested negatively for STIs
  • Using protection such as condoms
  • Limiting sexual partners
  • Abstaining from sexual activity after being diagnosed with chlamydia until you’ve been completely treated and cleared by a healthcare provider
  • Receiving regular, routine medical care
  • Seeking healthcare as soon as possible after exposure to chlamydia

Regular testing combined with safe sexual practices is the best way to protect yourself from chlamydia as well as other STIs. Talk to your doctor about your medical and sexual history to determine the right chlamydia screening plan for you.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Jul 18, 2016

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