How Do You Test For Chlamydia?
It is easy to test for chlamydia. As one of the most common sexually transmitted infections for both men and women throughout the UK, chlamydia can become dangerous if left untreated. With potential infertility complications, leaving a chlamydia infection can truly ruin your future plans.
Whether you choose to urinate in a cup or take a swab test, chlamydia tests rarely take longer than 15 minutes.
At iPlaySafe, we're passionate about educating people about sexually transmitted infections and breaking down the stigmas of discussing them. Below you will find our guide to chlamydia testing and why it's recommended that you take a test at least once a year if you are sexually active!
What is Chlamydia?
Chlamydia, or Chlamydia trachomatis, is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection. Most commonly spread through unprotected sex, chlamydia is an STI that can infect both men and women, although it generally is more serious when contracted by women.
It mainly affects sexually active adults under the age of 25 and is one of the most common STIs in the UK. Testing for chlamydia is extremely quick and can help prevent serious complications lasting due to long term infections.
Chlamydia Test for Men
There are two main testing methods when it comes to testing for chlamydia infections if you are a man. The main test you will be offered if you are testing for chlamydia is a urine test, which will only take a few minutes.
Urine tests are the most common method for men. They are incredibly straightforward and shouldn't take too long, so it's great if you are in a hurry. The method is the same regardless of whether you are testing using an at-home kit or if you are visiting your local clinic.
Simply urinate into the supplied container; it is recommended that you wait for at least 1 to 2 hours since you last urinated. Once the container is half-full, you will then be able to seal it up using the supplied gear and send it away to be tested.
The alternative testing method is swabbing. This is just as quick as the urine test but is generally more popular amongst women. Swabbing is simple; you will be given a cotton bud to gently wipe and take a sample from inside the anus.
Both tests have a similar turn-around rate in terms of when you can expect to receive your results. It shouldn't take much more than 10-15 minutes for the full testing process to be over, so you can get back out there and on with your day!
Chlamydia Test for Women
Testing for chlamydia in women is just as simple as it is for men. The methods are almost exactly the same, with women being able to choose between a quick urine sample or a swabbing method.
The urine test will be the same; simply take your at-home STI test kit into the bathroom or at your local sexual health clinic. Fill the container around halfway with urine, preferably after 1 to 2 hours since you last urinated, and hand in the sample for testing.
In terms of swabbing, the method is once again the same. Generally, you will be asked to use a cotton bud to swab gently inside the vagina or your anus. This sample will then be sent away to a lab where you can expect to receive your results within 2 weeks.
Again, you shouldn't expect either of these tests to last much longer than 15 minutes which is perfect if you are in a bit of a rush. Most clinics will allow you to choose the test you take, with the urine test being the more popular of the two.
Testing for chlamydia has never been easier than it is today, so there's truly no reason not to regularly get a sexual health check-up. Both you and any sexual partners will be far safer having received a recent test.
What are the Symptoms of Chlamydia?
The symptoms of chlamydia are slightly different depending on whether you are a man or a woman. Chlamydia tends to be a little more dangerous if you are a woman as it can cause long-term reproduction issues.
Chlamydia Symptoms in Men
Symptoms are generally rarer in men, so it can be hard to fully know whether or not you have contracted a chlamydia infection - which is why it's so important to test regularly.
Below you will find a breakdown of some of the most common symptoms for men. Be sure to check your local clinic and get tested if the following symptoms arise:
- Pain within the testicles
- An itching or burning sensation inside the tube that urine passes through (the urethra)
- Pain whenever you urinate
- A cloudy, white or watery discharge that seems to be coming from the tip of your penis
If you show signs of these symptoms, it may not mean that you have chlamydia. However, it's always recommended to get tested if you notice any of the above symptoms.
Chlamydia Symptoms in Women
Chlamydia is, unfortunately, a little scarier if you are a woman due to the potential of long-term complications. Much like the symptoms for men, it can be hard to notice any symptoms for chlamydia if you are a woman, making testing regularly incredibly important.
Below you will find a breakdown of the most common symptoms a woman may notice if she has contracted Chlamydia trachomatis. As soon as you notice any of the following symptoms, then be sure to get tested:
- Pain whenever you urinate
- Bleeding or spotting between periods
- Frequent pain in the stomach or pelvis
- Pain during sex and bleeding after
- Cloudy and/or unusual vaginal discharge
Again, all these are common signs that you may have contracted a sexually transmitted disease or infection; they are not unique to chlamydia. However, testing is free and extremely fast, so sexually active women should regularly test for chlamydia.
What are the Dangers of Chlamydia?
If left untreated, chlamydia can quickly become one of the most dangerous sexually transmitted infections. Infertility can become an issue for men as chlamydia can cause swelling within the tubes that carry sperm (the epididymis).
For women, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease is a potential complication if you don't receive treatment for your infection. This can lead to infertility further down the road and may even cause an ectopic pregnancy (where the egg is implanted outside of the womb).
The dangers of chlamydia are never worth risking infection, which is why testing is the best way you can prevent spreading chlamydia. If you frequently have oral sex, anal sex or sex without protection, then be sure to regularly test for chlamydia.
How Long Does it Take for Chlamydia to Show Up Positive on a Test?
The speed of the results of your Chlamydia trachomatis test will depend on which test has been performed, urine or swab test. Typically, the average time it takes for your test results to be accessible can be anywhere between 7 to 10 days.
In terms of when your symptoms will begin showing, this can be anywhere between 7 and 21 days. This is why it is so important that you are regularly testing if you are sexually active with more than one sexual partner.
The most common way of finding out your test results is either through a text message or a letter to your chosen address. But this will depend on what service you use to take your test and on the option you choose after testing.
Whilst you wait for your chlamydia testing results, it's best you refrain from any sexual activity until you know for certain. This way, you can protect yourself and any sexual partner from an unwanted sexually transmitted infection.
How Long Does a Chlamydia Test Take?
Getting tested for chlamydia is thankfully extremely quick and straightforward. Most people will rarely spend more than 5 minutes taking the test, so you can send away your swab or urine sample and get your results back in just a few days.
The length of the test itself will depend on which test you choose to have, but both are still incredibly short. A urine test will only take as long as it takes you to wee in a cup and seal it up. On the other hand, a swab test will only take as long as it takes to take a swab sample, around 30 seconds to a minute.
If you have a new sexual partner or it has been a while since your last chlamydia screening test, then it is recommended you take a test. Chlamydia can lead to serious complications if not treated quickly, and with tests only taking minutes, there's no reason not to take a test when possible.
How often should I get tested for STIs if I am sexually active?
If you are currently sexually active, then it is recommended that you test for STIs, including chlamydia, at least once a year. Even if you display zero symptoms, it is still better to be safe than sorry when it comes to common sexually transmitted infections!
STIs can be hard to spot, even if you know what the symptoms of a particular one are. Testing regularly is the best way you can protect yourself and any prospective sexual partners from catching an STI. You should also try to get a test if you change sexual partner.
Can chlamydia be treated?
If spotted early enough and with a regular intake of prescribed antibiotics, over 95% of people who catch chlamydia are eventually treated.
After testing positive for chlamydia, you will typically be prescribed a set of antibiotics that, if taken as prescribed, will clear any Chlamydia trachomatis infections. The sooner you start treatment, the faster your chlamydia will be treated.
Do I have to tell my sexual partner if I get tested for chlamydia?
Yes, if you receive a positive result on your chlamydia screening test, then you will need to tell any current sexual partners. Chlamydia is a serious bacterial infection that can cause complications, especially for pregnant women.
Whilst you are treating chlamydia, avoid having sex, including oral sex. Chlamydia is usually only passed on during unprotected sex, but protected sex should still be avoided whilst you are treating your infection.