Chlamydia in Women

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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How is chlamydia diagnosed?

Diagnosis of chlamydia relies upon a laboratory test to demonstrate that the organism is present, either through culture or identification of the genetic material of the bacteria. Culture is an older and more time-consuming method of identifying the bacteria and is no longer routinely used. For routine diagnostic purposes, rapid tests that identify the bacterial genetic material are commonly used. These are referred to as nucleic acid amplification tests, or NAATs. The specimen for NAATs can be obtained at the time of gynecologic examination by swabbing the cervix, but diagnostic tests can be run on urine samples or self-collected vaginal swabs.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that sexually active women 25 years of age and younger should be tested every year for chlamydia infection. Pregnant women should be tested, as wells as women over 25 who have new or multiple sex partners.

What is the treatment for chlamydia?

Chlamydia can be easily cured with antibiotic therapy. Antibiotics may be given as a single dose or a 7-day course. Women should abstain from sexual intercourse during the 7-day course of antibiotics or for 7 days after the single dose treatment to avoid spreading the infection to others. Azithromycin and doxycycline are antibiotics commonly used to treat chlamydia infection, but other antibiotics may be successfully used as well. Pregnant women may be safely treated for chlamydia infection with antibiotics (for example, azithromycin, amoxicillin, and erythromycin ethylsuccinate, but not doxycycline). Sex partners of a person diagnosed with chlamydia should also be tested and treated if necessary, to avoid reinfection and further spread. Women whose sex partners have not been treated are at a high risk for developing a reinfection.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/1/2016

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