Diagnosis of Chlamydia
by Ricker Polsdorfer, MD
Diagnosis of chlamydia often relies on screening tests since most people have no symptoms. Screening tests are used on high-risk groups of people who show no signs or symptoms of infection. This is done to maximize early diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Chlamydia may also be suspected based on your symptoms (if you have them).
Testing can be done on fluid from a swab from the penis, cervix, throat, or rectum, or with a urine test. The fluid is often tested with nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT). This test can also diagnose gonorrhea.
If you think you have been exposed to chlamydia, it may make you feel anxious or embarrassed to seek care from your doctor. Home test kits are widely available, but they are not as accurate as testing at your doctor's office and can lead to a missed diagnosis. If you choose to use a test kit, it is important to follow-up with your doctor, regardless of the results. In the long run, it's best to have a doctor you feel comfortable with, so you can seek help when you need it.
If you are concerned about the cost of testing or currently don't have a doctor available, search for local community health or family planning centers that may offer testing services. Some testing services may be available for free.
2015 Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/default.htm. Updated January 25, 2017. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Chlamydia. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Updated April 2016. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Chlamydia—CDC fact sheet (detailed). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/STDFact-chlamydia-detailed.htm. Updated September 26, 2017. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Chlamydia genital infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dyname... . Updated August 23, 2017. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Chlamydia testing. Lab Tests Online—American Association for Clinical Chemistry website. Available at: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/chlamydia-testing. Accessed February 16, 2018.
Mishori R, McClaskey EL, WinklerPrins VJ. Chlamydia trachomatis infections: Screening, diagnosis, and management. Am Fam Physician. 2012;86(12):1127-1132.
van Dommelen L, van Tiel FH, et al. Alarmingly poor performance in Chlamydia trachomatis point-of-care testing. Sex Transm Infect. 2010;86(5):355-359.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 3/15/2015
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