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What is a Chlamydia test? 

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STDs) caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It can spread through oral, vaginal or anal sex even without penetration or ejaculation. The bacteria can thrive in the vagina, cervix, uterus, urethra, rectum and sometimes in the throat and eyes.

Chlamydia infection can be asymptomatic. Therefore, sexually active individuals are advised to undergo this test frequently. It can be treated using antibiotics. When left untreated, it can lead to serious issues such as infertility in women and reduced fertility in men. It can also cause inflammation around the liver in women and can cause problems during conception and pregnancy. In some cases, chlamydia infection can be transmitted from the mother to the baby. 

Once an individual is tested positive for chlamydia, it is essential for their partner to also undergo the test. One must remember that chlamydia can spread even while the treatment is going on; therefore, it is best to abstain from sexual contact until the individual is completely cured.

  1. Why is a Chlamydia test performed?
  2. How do you prepare for a Chlamydia test?
  3. How is a Chlamydia test performed?
  4. What do Chlamydia test results indicate?

Most people affected by chlamydia do not show any apparent symptoms or have mild symptoms. The following are the common symptoms associated with chlamydia infection:

In women:

In men:

Frequent urination is a common symptom in both men and women. If there is an infection in the eyes, there may be pain and discharge from the eyes.

Other cases when this test is done are:

  • Unprotected intercourse with a new partner
  • One partner showing symptoms or tested positive for chlamydia
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Presence of another STD

Chlamydia is recommended as a routine test for all sexually active men and women.

Usually, not much preparation is required before this test. However, it is crucial to inform the doctor about any medicines or herbal supplements that you may be taking. The doctor may or may not change the course of those medications before the test. Do not change the medication course without the consent of a doctor.

Also, you must inform your doctor about any other illegal drugs (if you are taking any) since they can affect the results of this test. 

In some cases, your doctor may advise you a urine test too. If you need to go for a urine test, you may be advised not to urinate one hour before the test.

It is a simple and painless test that usually does not take a long time and can be done at any time of the day. There are two types of test done for chlamydia: 

The doctor decides which type of test is needed for an individual. 

For woman:

  • In case of a swab test, the doctor or nurse will take a swab from within the vagina or cervix to pick up the cells
  • Urine tests are uncommon among women. For this test, the doctor will ask you to provide a urine sample in a sterile container

For men:

  • In case of a swab test, the doctor or nurse may collect a swab from the area around the opening of the urethra or insert the swab three to four centimetres inside the urethra.
  • A urine test is more common among men. For this test, the doctor will ask you to provide a urine sample in a sterile container

In some of the cases, for both men and women, the doctor may collect a swab from the rectum or throat. If the person shows symptoms of conjunctivitis, then a swab of the discharge from eyes is taken.

A swab is like small a cotton bud. The test is usually pain-free but may cause slight discomfort to some people.

Normal results: Normal results for chlamydia test are written as negative, which indicate an absence of chlamydia infection

Abnormal results: Abnormal results for chlamydia test are written as positive, which indicate the presence of an active infection. Your doctor may perform further tests to confirm the results and would start the treatment accordingly

Rarely a chlamydia test can give false-negative and false-positive results. 

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.  

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References

  1. The Family Planning Association. Chlamydia. Derby, England. [internet].
  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis. Washington, DC; USA
  3. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Chlamydia
  4. University of Rochester Medical Center. Chlamydia Trachomatis (Swab). Rochester, New York. [internet].
  5. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Chlamydia test. NHS Foundation Trust. [internet].