How does a chlamydia test work?
The most commonly used type of chlamydia test is called a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT). A NAAT detects the DNA of the bacteria that cause the chlamydia infection. You provide a sample of urine. Or your provider collects a sample of secretions from the vagina or urethra (the tube that carries urine out of your body). The lab tests the sample for signs of the bacteria.
Less often, providers use a cell culture to test for chlamydia. Your provider swabs your vagina, urethra or anus to collect a sample of fluid and cells. They send the cells to a lab to test. If bacteria are present, they will grow, which indicates an infection. Providers may choose this type of chlamydia test to detect infections in the anus. Or they may use a cell culture to see how chlamydia treatments are working.
What should I expect before a chlamydia test?
Ask your provider how you should prepare for a chlamydia test. Before the test, you may need to:
- Avoid urinating for a couple of hours before you get the test.
- Avoid douching or using creams in the vaginal area.
- Stop taking certain medications, such as antibiotics.
What should I expect during a chlamydia test?
Your provider gives you a clean cup and asks you to urinate (pee) in it. Follow your provider’s instructions carefully when collecting a urine sample. You’ll need to collect the urine as soon as it starts to come out (first-catch sample).
Instead of a urine sample, your provider might collect a sample of secretions from your genitals or anus. They gather this sample by rubbing a cotton swab on the inside of your vagina, penis or anus. If your provider suspects that you have a chlamydia infection in your eye, they will collect a fluid sample from your eye.
If you’re using an at-home chlamydia test, you will collect the sample yourself. Be sure to follow the instructions on the test kit carefully.
What should I expect after a chlamydia test?
After collecting a sample, your provider sends the sample to a lab. If you’re using an at-home kit, you will mail the sample to a lab. The lab will test the sample to check for bacterial DNA. Your provider will contact you when the results are ready and discuss the next steps.
While you’re waiting for results, it’s very important to avoid having sex. If you do have the infection and you have sex, you can spread it to others.
What are the benefits of a chlamydia test?
A chlamydia test is a reliable way to know if you have the infection, so you can get treatment. Getting treatment for chlamydia protects you from any complications. It also helps you protect your partners from getting the infection.
What are the risks of a chlamydia test?
There aren’t any risks involved with this test. Rarely, the results of the test may be inconclusive or unclear. You may need to give another sample.