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Chlamydia Tests

Test Overview

Chlamydia tests use a sample of body fluid or urine to see whether chlamydia bacteria (Chlamydia trachomatis) are present and causing an infection.

Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) are used to find chlamydia infection. These tests use urine or a sample of body fluid from areas such as the cervix, vagina, eyes, rectum, or throat to find the genetic material (DNA) of chlamydia bacteria. These tests are very good at identifying chlamydia. A test that is positive almost always means the infection is there and is unlikely to be a false-positive test result. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is an example of a nucleic acid amplification test.

If a chlamydia infection is suspected, don't have sex until the test results have come back. If the test shows that you have chlamydia, don't have sex for 7 days from when you finish treatment. Your sex partner or partners must also be treated for chlamydia to avoid passing the infection back to you or to others.

If you have chlamydia, all of your sex partners from the last 60 days should be tested and treatedfootnote 1. You may need to have tests for other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and syphilis.

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Why It Is Done

A test for chlamydia is done to:

  • See whether symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) are caused by a chlamydia infection.
  • Check people who are at higher risk for being infected with chlamydia. Chlamydia may not cause symptoms or it is possible the symptoms may go away without treatment. Unless you have a test, you may not know that you have it.
  • Retest people 6 months after they have been treated for chlamydia, or earlier if at higher risk.
  • Check for infection in a newborn whose mother had a chlamydia infection at the time of delivery.

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How To Prepare

A chlamydia test is done on either a urine sample or fluid (direct sample) collected from the area of the body that is most likely to be infected. If your test is being done on a urine sample, do not urinate for 2 hours before the sample is collected.

How It Is Done

Urine sample

Do not wipe the genital area clean before urinating. Collect the first part of your urine stream, just as you start to urinate. Give the amount of urine that is indicated in the instructions. Giving too much or too little may affect the results of your test.

Direct sample

In a direct sample, a sample of body fluid is taken from the affected area. These areas may include the cervix, vagina, rectum, throat, or eyes. Your doctor may use a swab to collect the sample. Or you may be given instructions on how to collect your own sample.

How long the test takes

The test will take a few minutes.

You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:

  • You urinate 2 hours or less before collecting a urine sample.
  • A sample from the rectum is contaminated with stool.
  • You douche or use vaginal cream or spray within 24 hours before the test.
  • You take antibiotics before the test.

How It Feels

There is no discomfort in collecting a urine sample.

Collecting a sample of fluid from the vagina, rectum, throat, or eyes may cause mild discomfort or pain.

Collecting a sample from the cervix may cause mild discomfort. Most women find that the procedure feels like a Pap test or pelvic examination.

Risks

There is no chance for problems in collecting a urine sample.

There is very little chance of problems when collecting a sample of fluid from the cervix, vagina, rectum, eyes, or throat.

Results

Chlamydia tests

Normal:

No chlamydia antigens or DNA are found. More tests for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may be needed to find the cause of symptoms.

Abnormal:

Chlamydia antigens or DNA are found.

References

Citations

  1. Public Health Agency of Canada (2020). Canadian guidelines on sexually transmitted infections: Chlamydia and LGV: Key information and resources. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/infectious-diseases/sexual-health-sexually-transmitted-infections/canadian-guidelines/chlamydia-lgv.html. Accessed November 19, 2020.

Credits

Adaptation Date: 8/13/2021

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.