Because of the chance of other health problems if you contract chlamydia trachomatis, ask your doctor how often you should have chlamydia screening tests if you're at risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends chlamydia screening for:
- Sexually active women age 25 or younger. The rate of chlamydia infection is highest in this group, so a yearly screening test is recommended. Even if you've been tested in the past year, get tested when you have a new sex partner.
- Pregnant women. You should be tested for chlamydia during your first prenatal exam. If you have a high risk of infection — from changing sex partners or from your regular partner's possible infection — get tested again later in your pregnancy.
- Women and men at high risk. Consider frequent chlamydia screening if you have multiple sex partners, if you don't always use a condom during sex or if you're a man who has sex with men. Other markers of high risk are current infection with another sexually transmitted infection and possible exposure to an STI through an infected partner.
Screening and diagnosis of chlamydia is relatively simple. Tests include:
- A urine test. A sample of your urine analyzed in the laboratory may indicate the presence of this infection.
A swab. For women, your doctor takes a swab of the discharge from your cervix for culture or antigen testing for chlamydia. This can be done during a routine Pap test. Some women prefer to swab their vaginas themselves, which has been shown to be as diagnostic as doctor-obtained swabs.
For men, your doctor inserts a slim swab into the end of your penis to get a sample from the urethra. In some cases, your doctor may swab the anus.
If you've been treated for an initial chlamydia infection, you should be retested in about three months.
Chlamydia trachomatis is treated with antibiotics. You may receive a one-time dose, or you may need to take the medication daily or multiple times a day for five to 10 days.
In most cases, the infection resolves within one to two weeks. During that time, you should abstain from sex. Your sexual partner or partners also need treatment even if they have no signs or symptoms. Otherwise, the infection can be passed back and forth between sexual partners.
Having chlamydia or having been treated for it in the past provides no immunity against reinfection in the future.
Preparing for your appointment
If you think you have a sexually transmitted infection, such as chlamydia trachomatis, make an appointment to see your family doctor.
What you can do
Before your appointment, prepare to answer the following questions:
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Does anything make them better or worse?
- What medications and supplements do you take regularly?
You also might want to prepare a list of questions to ask your doctor. Sample questions include:
- Should I be tested for other sexually transmitted infections?
- Should my partner be tested or treated for chlamydia infection?
- Should I abstain from sexual activity during treatment? How long should I wait?
- How can I prevent chlamydia infection in the future?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- Do you have a new sexual partner or multiple partners?
- Do you use condoms consistently?
- Do you have pelvic pain?
- Do you have pain while urinating?
- Do you have sores or unusual discharge?