At-home Chlamydia Test
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually-transmitted diseases. It’s possible to have chlamydia and not have any symptoms, but if left untreated, it can have serious consequences on your health. So that’s why it’s important to get tested regularly for sexually-transmitted diseases even if you feel well.
For detailed advice, you should always speak to your doctor, but it’s now possible to take a test for chlamydia at home. This makes it easier for you to get a quicker understanding of your sexual health, especially if you’re having unprotected sex. Remember, it’s not only important for you, but for your sexual partners, too.
How to test for chlamydia?
Testing for chlamydia is easy and painless. It’s important to get tested regularly, as the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that 1 in 20 sexually active young women have chlamydia. This high rate of chlamydia has led to widespread screening programs where healthcare providers can offer you a chlamydia test. 1
As chlamydia is an STD that doesn’t always show symptoms, it’s important to get screened regularly if you’re sexually active. Chlamydia can seriously impact your health even if you don’t have any symptoms, especially for people trying to get pregnant. A chlamydia infection can increase the risk of: 1 2
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Inflammation of the cervix, urethra, and rectum.
- Epididymitis (an inflammation of the tube at the back of the testicles which becomes swollen and painful)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
The chances of these effects are greatly reduced when chlamydia is detected and treated quickly. If you have chlamydia while you’re pregnant, it’s possible that your newborn contracts conditions during delivery like: 3
- Newborn conjunctivitis or ophthalmia neonatorum (an inflammation of the membrane that covers the white of the eyes)
Chlamydia tests search for chlamydia trachomatis, the bacteria that causes infection. As you can have chlamydia without having any symptoms, the only way of being sure you have or haven’t contracted it is by getting tested. Even without symptoms, the test will come back positive if the bacteria that causes chlamydia is present. 4 5
So how do you test for chlamydia?
- By collecting a urine sample.
- By using a swab. For this test, a small cotton bud has to be gently wiped over the area which you think might be infected. This could be the inside of the vagina, the mouth, or the inside of the anus.
You can do either one of these tests yourself. You’ll need to send the sample you collect to a lab to get analyzed. The preferred chlamydia test for men is a urine sample, while for women it’s more common to use a swab. Both tests are reliable, quick, easy, and pain-free. 5
What is a rapid chlamydia test?
Rapid chlamydia tests are being used more often these days. They work the same way as regular chlamydia tests, but you can get your results in a relatively short time frame (from minutes to hours, depending on the test). The key advantages of these new rapid tests are that you can start treatment quickly and reduce the risk of infecting others. 6 7
When should I get tested for chlamydia?
Testing regularly is a good idea in any case, but you should get tested for chlamydia as soon as possible if you think that you might have the STD. Bacteria can usually be detected early on, but your doctor might recommend that you retake the test after 2 weeks, to make sure it hasn’t been missed. 5
You can get chlamydia from having unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex. It’s a good idea to get tested if: 5
- You’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner,
- Your partner tells you that they have an STD,
- You’re experiencing symptoms of chlamydia,
- You’re planning to get pregnant,
- You or your partner have had unprotected sex with other people
How to test for chlamydia at home?
As a chlamydia test is fairly simple, you have the option of going to your primary care physician and getting tested there, or you can take a chlamydia test at home. The at-home test comes with easy-to-follow instructions. Once you’ve collected your sample, it needs to be sent to a lab where it will be analyzed and screened for the bacteria that causes chlamydia. Usually, results will be available within 7 to 10 days. 5
Chlamydia is often part of a panel test that screens for the 5 most common STDs (page here), along with gonorrhea, HIV, trichomoniasis and syphilis. As unprotected sex puts you at risk for a number of diseases, a panel test can confirm whether or not you have one of these STDs. By getting to know your sexual health, you can take appropriate measures, get treatment if you need it, protect your sexual partners, and confidently enjoy a healthy sex life.
How to read chlamydia test results
It’s easy to read your chlamydia test results. If your test comes back positive, it means the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis was found in your sample and you need to start treatment with a course of antibiotics as soon as possible.
If your test results come back negative, that means the bacteria was not found in your sample, so you do not have chlamydia. If you got the chlamydia test right after a sexual encounter, then it’s advised to take another test 2 weeks later so an infection can be completely ruled out.
If you have any doubts, your doctor can always provide you with additional information or treatment strategies. 8
Chlamydia test FAQs
Q: How long does a chlamydia test take?
A: A chlamydia test does not take long. You just need to collect the sample and send it to the lab for analysis. You’ll usually get results back in 7-10 days.
Q: Where can I test for chlamydia?
A: You can take an at-home chlamydia test and send it to a lab for analysis yourself, or you can get the test done at your local primary care practice or sexual health clinic.
Q: How long does it take to test positive for chlamydia?
A: A chlamydia test can usually detect chlamydia 1 to 2 weeks after exposure.
Q: Can I still be contagious if the chlamydia test is negative?
A: Although chlamydia tests are very accurate, there is a very small percentage of tests that are false negative. This means that you actually have chlamydia, even though the test says you don’t. It’s also important to keep in mind that it takes about 2 weeks for the bacteria to reach a detectable level after a sexual encounter.
Q: How long will I test positive for chlamydia after treatment?
A: After treatment, chlamydia can still show up in urine samples for up to three weeks.
Q: What is a false positive chlamydia test?
A: A false positive chlamydia test is very rare, but possible. It means that the chlamydia test shows that you have chlamydia, while in reality you don’t. This may be due to an error in the test or a mistake in the lab.
Q: Should I get another test after the chlamydia treatment?
A: It’s routine to retest for chlamydia after treatment to make sure that your infection is gone and that you haven’t gotten infected again. Having had chlamydia does not make you immune to new infections.
Q: What is a test-of-cure for chlamydia?
A: A test-of-cure (TOC) can be done about a month after treatment if symptoms persist or if chlamydia was treated during pregnancy.
Q: Can you be a carrier of chlamydia and test negative?
A: This can happen if you’ve taken the test shortly after your infection with chlamydia. It usually takes about 2 weeks for chlamydia to show up in a urine sample.