How Do I Get Tested For Chlamydia?

Doctor preparing smear test for screening
Doctor preparing smear test for screening. Peter Dazeley/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Question: How do I get tested for chlamydia?

Answer: Getting a chlamydia test is usually as easy as pee...

Chlamydia is very easy STD to test for. Chlamydia tests can be done on a number of types of samples. For many of people; however, the choice of sample is simple. A  urine test is a very easy way to detect chlamydia. All they have to do is pee in a cup and wait for results! The downside of urine testing is that you can only use it to test for genital disease.

Oral and rectal chlamydia still need swabs.

Type of samples healthcare providers can use to test for chlamydia include:

  1. Swab: A swab is taken of the urethra (men), cervix (women), and/or rectum (for people who have receptive anal sex). For women, the cervical swab is taken as part of a pelvic exam done with a speculum. This process should be painless, although some people may find it embarrassing or uncomfortable.
  2. Urine: Many providers will also use a urine test to diagnose chlamydia. This is more commonly offered to men than women. Urine tests can be performed in women,. Unfortunately, they are  slightly less sensitive than a cervical swab and so are less often used. Recent studies, however, suggest that urine testing may actually be a reasonably effective way to diagnose chlamydia in women. That's particularly true in settings where a pelvic exam is impractical.  It's also possible for women to take their own swabs. Unfortunately, not all doctors are comfortable with that as an option. Neither all women. Several studies have found that some women are reluctant to take their own swabs. 

    Once a sample has been acquired, it is sent to a laboratory for testing. Depending on the sample and the lab, testing may involve:

    • growing chlamydia from the sample,
    • looking for chlamydial DNA,
    • using antibodies to identify whether or not the sample contains any organisms.

    Fun Fact: Urine tests are highly effective in men because the site of infection is the urethra. Therefore, urine passes through the infection site where it can collect bacteria. In women, the site of infection is the usually the cervix. Therefore, levels of chlamydia in the urine may be lower.

    Can I get a chlamydia test at home or online?

    It is possible to purchase an online chlamydia test. However, these tests are not performed online! Usually they involve you visiting a laboratory site and leaving a sample. These laboratories are generally the same sites your doctor would send your samples for testing. When that is the case, the testing is just as accurate. On the upside, you can usually arrange for testing on your own schedule. On the downside, you have to pay for the test out of pocket. If you visit your doctor, insurance will often cover STD testing.

    In some areas of the world, home chlamydia tests are also available. These usually involve a sample collection kit that has been sent through the mail. Then the sample is mailed back to the testing  provider. For some people, this may be easier than going to a doctor. However, not all home tests are of equal quality. Make certain any home test you are considering comes from a reputable source and is being sent to a reputable lab. For example, Planned Parenthood has started to offer a home test kit. On the downside, it is not yet available in all states. On the upside, the cost includes treatment if your test is positive. 


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    Fajardo-Bernal L, Aponte-Gonzalez J, Vigil P, Angel-Müller E, Rincon C, Gaitán HG, Low N. Home-based versus clinic-based specimen collection in the management of Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Sep 29;9:CD011317. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011317.pub2.

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