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Gonorrhea and Chlamydia: About These Tests

What is it?

These tests use a sample of urine or other body fluid to look for the bacteria that cause these sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The fluid sample can come from the cervix, vagina, rectum, throat, or eyes.

Why is this test done?

These tests may be done to:

  • Find out if symptoms are caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia.
  • Check people who are at risk for being infected with gonorrhea or chlamydia.
  • Retest people after they have been treated for gonorrhea or chlamydia, as directed by their healthcare provider.
  • Check for infection in a newborn whose mother had a gonorrhea or chlamydia infection at the time of delivery.

You may need more testing if you have symptoms. You should also get tests every 3 to 6 months if you have:

  • a new partner
  • more than 1 partner
  • an anonymous partner (a partner you don't know well)

How can you prepare for the test?

  • If you are going to have a urine test, do not urinate for at least 1 hour before the test.
  • If you think you may have chlamydia or gonorrhea, don't have sexual intercourse until you get your test results. And you may want to have tests for other STIs, such as HIV and syphilis. Talk to your healthcare provider.

How is the test done?

  • For a direct sample, a swab is used to collect body fluid from the cervix, vagina, urethra, rectum, throat, or eyes. Your healthcare provider may collect the sample. Or you may be given instructions on how to collect your own sample.
  • For a urine sample, you will collect the urine that comes out when you first start to urinate. Don't wipe the genital area clean before you urinate. Follow the instructions for the amount of urine to add to the container. Having too much or too little urine in the sample may affect your test results.

How long does the test take?

The test will take a few minutes. You'll get the results in 1 to 3 days, depending how the lab tests the sample you gave.

What happens after the test?

  • You will be able to go home right away.
  • You can go back to your usual activities right away.
  • If you do have an infection, don't have sexual intercourse for 7 days after you start treatment. And your sex partner(s) should also be tested and treated.
  • If you have symptoms or may have been exposed to an STI, don't have sex until you get your test result.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to keep a list of the medicines you take. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your test results. For more information on STIs, visit https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/services/page13737.aspx.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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