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How long does a chlamydia test take?

This content has been written and checked for quality and accuracy by
Mohamed Imran Lakhi Content Administrator Published on: 13/08/2019 Updated on: 13/08/2019

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI) that can infect both men and women. It is caused by a bacterial infection called chlamydia trachomatis that is spread through unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected person.

Through the National Chlamydia Screening Programme in 2018, there were 1,304,113 chlamydia tests carried out among young people, aged between 15 and 24 years old. 131,269 people were diagnosed as positive making it a 2% increase since 2017.

What is a Chlamydia Test?

A chlamydia test is used to determine if you have chlamydia bacteria, known as chlamydia trachomatis, in your body. Testing for chlamydia involves:

  • A swab test - where a small cotton bud is wiped inside the vagina or anus.
  • A urine sample - that needs to be done at least one or two hours after you last urinated.

If you have a high chance of having chlamydia, then you may be advised to start treatment even before you get the results. This is usually the case when:

  • You or your partner have shown any symptoms of the infection.
  • Your partner has already been diagnosed with chlamydia and you have had unprotected sex or sexual contact.

Chlamydia tests are free, confidential and available at your doctor’s surgery, a sexual health clinic or via a home testing kit.

If you are considering getting tested for chlamydia, bear in mind that the test will not tell you how long you have had it for. As the infection is asymptomatic, you could have had it for months or years without realising. Furthermore, depending on how many sexual encounters you have had, it is difficult to trace the infection back to one person.

How is Chlamydia Treated?

Fortunately, chlamydia is easy to treat with oral antibiotics. The two most commonly prescribed antibiotics for chlamydia are:

It can take up to one week for the antibiotics to work and you will start to notice any symptoms clear up in this time. While you are taking the antibiotics, you should avoid having sex or any sexual contact, as you could still be contagious, therefore you could pass the infection onto your partner.

If any of the symptoms continue then you should visit your doctor’s surgery for further advice.

When Should You Take a Chlamydia Test?

It is crucial that you do not delay going for a test if you suspect you may have chlamydia. If you have had unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex, it is best you get yourself tested as soon as possible. Other reasons why you should think about getting tested for chlamydia include:

  • You or your partner starts to show signs/symptoms of chlamydia.
  • You or your partner have had unprotected sex with other people.
  • You have had unprotected sex with a new partner.
  • Your partner tells you they currently have an STI.
  • You are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.
  • You notice a condom has split during sex.

What Do The Test Results Mean?

The results of the chlamydia test will usually be available in about seven to 10 days. You can expect either a:

  • Positive test result – that means you are infected with chlamydia and will need antibiotics to treat it. You will need to let your current and any recent sexual partners know need so that they can also be tested for chlamydia.
  • Negative result – that means no STI was found and no further action is required.

How Serious is Chlamydia?

If chlamydia is left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body and potentially cause long-term health problems. Also, the more times you get chlamydia the more likely you are to get further health complications. In women, the complications of chlamydia include:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease, a complication that causes scarring of the fallopian tubes.
  • Fertility problems.

In men, the complications include:

  • The infection spreading to the tube that carries sperm from the testicles causing painful inflammation.
  • Reactive arthritis.

How to Prevent Getting Chlamydia?

The most effective way to prevent catching chlamydia is to abstain from all sexual activities. However, this is not realistic therefore aim to practice safe sex and take care of your sexual heath by:

  • Use condoms consistently - during all your sexual contact always use a condom to help reduce the risk of infection, risk of pregnancy and the spread of STIs.
  • Limit how many sexual partners you have – if you have multiple partners it puts you at a high risk of contracting chlamydia as well as other STIs.
  • Get yourself tested regularly – if you are sexually active then get tested every year or when you change sexual partner.