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Chlamydia Tests

Chlamydia tests use a sample of body fluid or urine to see whether chlamydia bacteria (Chlamydia trachomatis) are present and causing an infection. Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States.

Tests used to find a chlamydia infection include:

  • Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT). These tests 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 problem 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. This test can also be done on a urine sample.
  • Chlamydia culture. A culture is a special cup that allows the chlamydia bacteria to grow. Results take longer (5 to 7 days) than the other tests. The culture must be done in a lab.

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 high risk for being infected with chlamydia. A chlamydia infection does not always cause symptoms. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends checking for chlamydia for:
    • All sexually active women age 24 or younger.
    • Women older than age 24 with high-risk sexual behaviors.
    • All pregnant women in the first trimester and again in the third trimester if high-risk sexual behaviors are reported. Treating a pregnant woman who has a chlamydia infection can prevent an infection in her newborn.
    • All women with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
    • All women with symptoms of a cervical infection (cervicitis) found on a pelvic exam.
  • Check for infection in a newborn whose mother had a chlamydia infection at the time of delivery.

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 chlamydia test is being done on a:

  • Urine sample: Do not urinate for 2 hours before a urine sample is collected.
  • Direct sample (usually from the cervix): A woman should not douche or use vaginal creams or medicines for 24 hours before having a chlamydia test.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 04, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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