Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Testing
Chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis) and Gonorrhea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) are bacterial infections that cause common sexually transmitted diseases. Both can be successfully treated with antibiotics. Reinfection is likely without correct condom use or abstaining from sexual activity. Sexually active women under the age of 25, with or without symptoms, need to be tested at least once a year as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Women over the age of 25 and all men need to be tested at least once a year for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea if they have more than one sex partner or have a new sex partner.
Most women and men infected with Chlamydia and Gonorrhea have no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they can appear up to six weeks after exposure during sexual intercourse. Symptoms depend on the infection site: vaginal, anal, mouth, or pharynx. If left untreated in women, both Chlamydia and Gonorrhea can result experiencing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) leading to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy. While occurring in both men and women, reactive arthritis (arthritis, urethral inflammation, and conjunctivitis) is more common in untreated men. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, when untreated in pregnant women, can infect newborns through exposure to the infectious bacteria in the birth canal during vaginal childbirth. Co-infection of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea is common. Co-testing for both Chlamydia and Gonorrhea is recommended.
The Virology/Serology Unit uses a nucleic acid amplified test (NAAT) to detect Chlamydia (C. trachomatis) and Gonorrhea (N. gonorrhoeae) in a single urogenital specimen. See the Specimen Submission Guidelines (PDF) and the Resources section for addition information on Chlamydia and Gonorrhea testing.
More About Chlamydia
Chlamydia is a Gram-negative, intracellular, obligate bacteria that survives and thrives in the hostile environment of its human host. The Chlamydia genital track variant causes the sexually transmitted bacterial infection. The Chlamydia trachoma variant causes blindness. The Chlamydia lympho granuloma venereum variant, commonly diagnosed in HIV-infected men, causes urogenital or anorectal infections. Even though most people with Chlamydia infections have no physical symptoms, they are experiencing subclinical infections - including subclinical PID - which still harms their bodies. Subclinical infection makes screening essential for women of reproductive age.
Pregnant women should be tested at the first prenatal visit and during the third trimester as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When untreated in pregnant women, Chlamydia can cause miscarriages and premature births. Chlamydia-infected newborns can experience pneumonia or ophthalmia neonatorum (conjunctivitis), with rectal or genital Chlamydia infections possible up to one year of age. Chlamydia in preadolescent and adolescent children is a sign of sexual abuse and is taken very seriously.
More About Gonorrhea
Gonorrhea is a Gram-negative, intracellular diplococci bacteria with medical descriptions going back 2,000 years. Gonorrhea is a highly transmissible through sexual intercourse and childbirth. Gonorrhea symptoms appear at the infection site: vaginal, anal, and pharynx. Most individuals have no Gonorrhea symptoms. An untreated, subclinical Gonorrhea infection in women can cause serious health problems including PID, uterine tubal scarring leading to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and a potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy. When untreated in men, men may experience epididymitis, a painful inflammation and swelling at the back of the testicle. In both women and men, Gonorrhea can spread throughout the body and cause chronic joint infections, dermatitis, and, rarely, sepsis. The predominance of subclinical infection, and the damage the asymptomatic infection can cause, makes screening essential for the promotion of good, life-long health.
Testing or screening recommendations for Gonorrhea depend on the individual’s age and sexual activity. Sexually active women younger than 25 should be tested for Gonorrhea at least once a year, as recommended by the US CDC. Sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested every year. Women over the age of 25 and all men who have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner should be tested at least once a year. All pregnant women should be tested for Gonorrhea at their first prenatal visit and during the third trimester if they are considered high risk. When untreated in pregnant women, Gonorrhea can cause miscarriages, premature births, and low birth weight. Gonorrhea-infected newborns can develop joint infections, scalp abscesses, serious eye infections, blindness, meningitis, and sepsis. Because it is a sexually transmissible only disease, Gonorrhea in preadolescent and adolescent children is a sign of sexual abuse and is taken very seriously.