Testing and Treatment for Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases affecting more than 3 million people in the United States every year. Symptoms of chlamydia often go unnoticed or fail to appear at all, giving chlamydia the nickname “The Silent Disease.” Chlamydia is easily treatable with a course of antibiotics but prolonged infection can cause serious damage to the reproductive organs in both men and women. If you have any chlamydia symptoms, or think you may have been infected with the disease, it is important to get tested as soon as possible.

Diagnosis and Testing
A few simple tests is all that is needed to diagnose a chlamydia infection. Your doctor will probably need to do a physical exam and will also ask you a few questions about your symptoms as well as safe sex practices. In women, chlamydia is best detected through a cervical swab.

This procedure is very similar to a pap smear. A speculum will be inserted into your vagina. This is a plastic instrument that helps to hold your vagina open. A cotton swab is then inserted into the speculum and brushed around the cervix. This sample is sent to the lab for testing.

If you are a man, your doctor may take a swab of your urethra in order to obtain a sample for testing. Urine tests are now available to diagnose chlamydia. These are especially effective in diagnosing chlamydia in men. However, urine testing is more expensive and is not available at all health clinics. Samples taken by your doctor will be sent for testing at a laboratory.

A variety of tests can be performed, but all aim to detect the bacteria that cause chlamydia, called Chalmydia trachomatis. The most common tests look for antigens that the bacteria produce in your body. A culture test may also be performed. This test fosters the growth of chlamydia bacteria in a dish so that it can be analyzed under a microscope. The type of test you receive will depend on your doctor. Results are usually available within a week.

If you are diagnosed with chlamydia, you can easily be treated with antibiotics. Because many people with chlamydia also have gonorrhea, you may be prescribed a medication that can treat both STDs. The most commonly prescribed medication is azithromycin or doxycylcine, either in a single dose, or over the course of 1 week. An alternate drug may be prescribed if you are pregnant or under the age of 18.

More than 95% of people treated for chlamydia will recover completely. However, these drugs cannot reverse any damage that the infection may have done to your body before treatment. If you have any signs of chlamydia, or if you have multiple sex partners, it is a good idea to get tested as soon as possible. Chlamydia is linked with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and ectopic pregnancies in women, and sterility in men.

Because chlamydia transmission is easy, you must get your partner tested for the infection as well. It is important to abstain from sex during treatment, even if you are exhibiting no chlamydia symptoms. It is also important to complete your course of medication completely in order to recover from the infection.

Follow Up
If symptoms of chlamydia persist, return to your doctor for further testing or treatment. If your chlamydia symptoms have disappeared and you have completed your medication, there is no need to return to your doctor. Ensure that all of your sexual partners have been treated before resuming intercourse. Be sure to use a condom and practice safer sex with all partners. It may be a good idea to return to your doctor for chlamydia testing every year, as it is possible to be reinfected with the disease even after treatment.

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