The Easiest Chlamydia Test You’ll Ever Take

Giant Plush Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most common bacterial STI and in my work as a sex educator, I’ve heard a lot of myths and misconceptions about this little bacterium. For many of us born in the 1980s and 90s, STI education focused primarily on HIV – understandably so, since HIV is a much more serious infection. Chlamydia sometimes gets left out because it’s non-lethal, but a little extra knowledge can go a long way. Here’s a short quiz to test your chlamydia IQ:

1. In the US, about ___________ people get diagnosed with chlamydia every year.
A. 100,000
B. 500,000
C. 1 million
D. 3 million

2. True or False? Chlamydia is curable.

3. In addition to causing a potentially unpleasant infection, if left untreated chlamydia can cause:
A. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
B. Epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis)
C. Infertility
D. All of the above

4. True or False? People infected with chlamydia usually have noticeable symptoms.

5. Chlamydia is:
A. More contagious than HIV
B. Less contagious than HIV
C. Equally contagious as HIV

6. True or False? Only heterosexuals get chlamydia.

7. The most common way to test for chlamydia is:
A. a blood test
B. a pap smear
C. a urine test

8. True or False? If you get diagnosed with chlamydia, you’re on your own to contact your sexual partners.

Scroll down for the answers!

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Answers:

1. In the US, ­­­___________ people get diagnosed with chlamydia every year.
A. 100,000
B. 500,000
C. 1 million
D. 3 million
Most of those cases are in young people. Chlamydia is five times as common than gonorrhea and 30 times as common than syphilis in the US (according to Planned Parenthood).

2. True or False? Chlamydia is curable.
TRUE! A quick course of antibiotics clears up this troublesome little bug. Just make sure your partner gets treated as well so you don’t get reinfected.

3. In addition to causing a potentially unpleasant infection, chlamydia can cause:
A. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
B. Epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis)
C. Infertility
D. All of the above
While most chlamydia infections aren’t a big deal, some infections can lead to epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis in men) and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in women, both of which can cause tubal scarring and resulting infertility.

4. True or False? People infected with chlamydia usually have symptoms.
FALSE! I often hear people say, “I’d know if I had an STI,” but the opposite is often true. Many men and most women who get chlamydia have no symptoms at all. Those who do may have an unusual discharge coming from their penis, vagina, or anus. Chlamydia’s asymptomatic nature is why getting a test is so important, for both men and women.

5. Chlamydia is:
A. More contagious than HIV
B. Less contagious than HIV
C. Equally contagious as HIV
This does not mean that chlamydia is more serious than HIV, just that it easier to transmit. Interestingly, being infected with chlamydia does increase the likelihood of HIV infection, if exposed to an HIV-infected partner.

6. True or False? Only heterosexuals get chlamydia.
FALSE! Women can spread it to women, men can spread it to men, and it can be transmitted during oral sex between anyone. Chlamydia does not discriminate and can live happily in anybody’s sexual fluids. Condoms (on penises and sex toys) and other barriers dramatically reduce the likelihood of spreading chlamydia.

7. The most common way to test for chlamydia is:
A. a blood test
B. a pap smear
C. a urine test
Chlamydia tests do not require needles, a pap test (although those are a good idea!) or the dreaded urethral swab. Back in the old days, men had to have a cotton swab inserted into their urethras to test for chlamydia. Now, urethral swabs are rarely done. Instead, you can get a urine test or a swab in the vagina (convenient if you’re already there for a pap), anus, or throat, depending on your sexual history.

8. True or False? If you get diagnosed with chlamydia, you’re on your own to contact your sexual partners.
FALSE! The US-based InSpot.org and the Australia-based LetThemKnow.org.au offer resources for contacting your partners to encourage them to be tested. They both offer anonymous text messaging and email tools, in addition to STI information and helpful advice on telling your partners in person. There are a lot of emotions that can accompany an STI test, and even more for a diagnosis. Many people experience fear, embarrassment, anxiety, and/or anger. Arming yourself with information and enlisting the help of these resources can make the experience easier.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com, where you can purchase your very own giant plush chlamydia!

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About Kate McCombs

Kate McCombs

Kate McCombs, MPH is a NYC-based sex educator + blogger. She's the founder of Sex Geekdom, a global community for sex educators, researchers, and other folks who love having geeky conversations about sex.