The only way to find out if you have an STD is to get tested. You can get tested whether or not you have symptoms.*
What does the test involve?
The tests for chlamydia are simple and painless. Most people can have the test carried out using a urine sample. Some people have a swab test (a small cotton bud). The swab is used to gently wipe the area where you might have chlamydia, to collect some cells. The cells are then tested for infection.
People who have had anal or oral sex might have a swab taken from their rectum or throat. This isn’t done on everyone.
If you have symptoms in your eye, such as discharge or inflammation, a swab test might be taken to collect cells from your eyelid.
Tests for women
Chlamydia tests on women can be done with a urine sample or swab test. If a woman has a swab test, it can be taken from the cervix, or inside the lower vagina. Occasionally the doctor or nurse may advise you to have a swab test from the urethra (where urine comes out).
How soon after sex can I get a chlamydia test?
Don’t delay getting tested if you think you might have chlamydia. You can get a chlamydia test at any time whether or not you have symptoms. You might be advised to repeat the test if it was less than two weeks since you had sex, as sometimes the infection could be in its early stages.
It is recommended that you get tested for chlamydia if:
- you or your partner think you have any symptoms
- you’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner
- you’ve had a split condom
- you or your partner have unprotected sex with other people
- you think you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- a sexual partner tells you they have an STI
- you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy
- you have a vaginal examination and your doctor or nurse tells you that the cells of your cervix are inflamed or there is vaginal discharge
How reliable is a chlamydia test?
The accuracy of tests varies, depending on the type of test used. Recommended tests are 90-95% sensitive. This means that they will detect chlamydia in most people who have the infection. Some tests you can buy may be less reliable.
Remember that no test is 100% accurate. There is a small chance that a test may show negative even when you have chlamydia. This is called a false negative test result. It is also possible for a test to be positive even when you do not have chlamydia. This is called a false positive test result. Both of these false tests are very rare but can sometimes explain why you get a different result to your sexual partner.
If you are worried about your test result, talk to your doctor, a sexual health adviser or call the FPA helpline on 0845 122 8690.
Do I have to pay for a test?
If you have a test at an NHS Sexual Health clinic, GUM clinic or with the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP) then your tests and any treatment is free. If you go to your GP, the test is free but you may have to pay a prescription charge for treatment, unless you qualify for free prescriptions. If you buy a test from a pharmacy, you will have to pay. Find out more about:
- symptoms of chlamydia
- treatment for chlamydia
- protecting yourself against chlamydia
*Conditions apply. Available to under 24’s. Please call 020 8534 3179 for more information