What does the chlamydia test involve?
The recommended tests for chlamydia are simple, painless and generally very reliable.
They involve sending a sample of cells to a laboratory for analysis. You don't necessarily have to be examined by a doctor or nurse first and can often collect the sample yourself.
There are two main ways the sample can be collected:
- using a swab – a small cotton bud is gently wiped over the area that might be infected, such as inside the vagina or inside the anus
- urinating into a container – this should ideally be done at least 1 or 2 hours after you last urinated
Men will usually be asked to provide a urine sample, while women will usually be asked to either swab inside their vagina or provide a urine sample.
The results will normally be available in 7 to 10 days. If there's a high chance you have chlamydia – for example, you have symptoms of the infection or your partner has been diagnosed with it and you've had unprotected sex with them – you might start treatment before you get your results.
Read more about treating chlamydia.
When should I get tested?
Don't delay getting tested if you think you might have chlamydia. Being diagnosed and treated as soon as possible will reduce your risk of developing any serious complications of chlamydia.
You can get a chlamydia test at any time – although you might be advised to repeat the test later on if you have it less than 2 weeks since you had sex because the infection might not always be found in the early stages.
You should consider getting tested for chlamydia if:
- you or your partner have any symptoms of chlamydia
- you've had unprotected sex with a new partner
- a condom splits while you're having sex
- you or your partner have had unprotected sex with other people
- you think you could have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- a sexual partner tells you they have an STI
- you're pregnant or planning a pregnancy
If you're under 25 years of age and sexually active, getting tested every year or when you change sexual partner is recommended because you're more likely to catch chlamydia.
If you have chlamydia, you may be offered another test around 3 months after being treated. This is because young adults who test positive for chlamydia are at increased risk of catching it again.
Where can I get a chlamydia test?
You can get a free, confidential chlamydia test at:
- a sexual health clinic
- a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic
- your GP surgery
- most contraceptive clinics
You can go to whichever place is the most comfortable and convenient for you.
You can also buy chlamydia testing kits to do at home.
Young people under 25 years of age can get tested as part of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP). This is often in places such as pharmacies, colleges and youth centres.
In some areas, young people can order a postal testing kit online as part of the NCSP. Search for free online tests for under-25s to see if this is available in your area.