Chlamydia Diagnosis in Women

Medical Author:

Doctor's View on Chlamydia Diagnosis in Women

Comment by by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Difficulties with chlamydia diagnosis

The identification of chlamydia infection in women may be complicated by the fact that it often produces no symptoms. In fact, most women who have the infection do not have symptoms. Some women do have symptoms and may seek medical attention due to burning and vaginal discharge. If the infection spreads upward in the genital tract, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and result in infertility.

Chlamydia testing

The U.S. CDC has recommended that certain women be tested for chlamydia. Testing is recommended each year for all sexually active women age 25 or younger. It is also recommended for older women with risk factors for chlamydial infections (having a new or more than one sex partner). Because chlamydia infection can also cause problems with pregnancy and for the developing baby, testing is recommended for pregnant women.

Chlamydia diagnostic tests

Testing can be done on a vaginal swab or a urine specimen. Different types of tests may be used to identify the organism. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) look for the genetic material of the bacteria and are very sensitive. DNA probe tests are less sensitive than NAATs but also are directed at identifying the bacterial DNA. Other tests known as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) use specially labeled antibodies to detect characteristic proteins (antigens) on the surface of the organisms. Finally, bacterial culture of body fluids is another diagnostic test, but cultures take more time than tests designed to detect the bacterial DNA or surface antigens.

Chlamydia Diagnosis in Women Resources

Doctor written main article on Chlamydia in Women Overview


“Chlamydia – CDC Fact Sheet.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 11 Feb. 2013.

Last Editorial Review: 8/9/2013 3:56:56 PM

    Health Solutions From Our Sponsors