Almost 3 million new cases of chlamydia are reported every single year, which means 1 in 20 sexually active young people have chlamydia. With such a prevalent STI like this one, it’s very important to get regularly tested.
Anyone who has unprotected sex is exposed to chlamydia and can get this infection during genital, anal, or oral sex. This bacteria is treatable, but if left undetected for a long time, it can cause infertility or other serious health problems.
The real problem is that chlamydia often shows no signs and no symptoms, which means people are at risk of transmitting this infection without having a clue they are infected. Those who do get tested, but decide to do it too early will not get adequate results. That’s why timing is crucial for chlamydia testing.
Here we will focus on how long it takes for chlamydia to show up on tests, why is the incubation period important, and how it affects the test results in both men and women.
How Long Should I Wait for Chlamydia to Show on Tests?
There are various chlamydia tests you can undergo to get diagnosed with this infection. Depending on which test you take, the time will vary. There are three ways to get diagnosed for chlamydia, and those are a swab, urine, or blood test.
For a swab test, the doctor will take a cotton stick to sample the infected fluid or tissue. This sample will then be taken to the lab, where experienced technicians will analyze the growth of the bacteria and see how much it has developed.
A urine test is analyzed the same way. The urine is stored in a sealed cup and sent off for testing. If the technicians find any bacteria present in the urine, it will mean you’ve been infected. A blood test, on the other hand, is a more painful method, but the most reliable one. The blood sample will be taken to the lab to analyze all the antibodies and see whether this infection has infected the bloodstream.
So, the results you will get will depend on the type of test you selected:
- For swab results – chlamydia shows up in 2 to 3 days
- For blood tests – chlamydia can show up instantly if the blood is inspected on site
- For urine tests – it can take up to 2 or 5 days for chlamydia to show up
The Incubation Period Has a Role to Play
Every STIs has an incubation period; chlamydia is no exception. This period is a span of time from the moment you are exposed to the infection to the moment the antibodies start to form.
Chlamydia tests search for these antibodies, and if you don’t wait for the incubation to end, there won’t be enough antibodies that will show up on tests. This will, in turn, result in a false-negative chlamydia test.
But, even if you do wait for the incubation to end, you still might not experience symptoms or signs of chlamydia. This is an extremely common problem with STIs, which is why most of them remain undetected for a long time.
To be 100% sure, you are chlamydia-free, you should get tested, there is no other way to know if you do carry the infection or not. If you do test positive, you need to repeat the same test 2 weeks after your treatment has ended.
When Is the Best Time to Get Tested for Chlamydia?
After you’ve been exposed or believe to be in contact with an infected individual, it’s important to get tested. Most doctors will recommend that you wait 1 to 5 days after you’ve been exposed to this infection if you want the bacteria to show up on tests. If you go too soon, you might get inaccurate test results.
If you are positive and get treatment, you should return for another test after 21 or 28 days to make sure the bacteria have been completely removed from your system, and you will not transmit it to your partner.
If you are planning to take additional precautions, you can also test for other STIs like hepatitis, syphilis, HIV, and more.
How Long Will It Take for Chlamydia to Show Up in Women?
Symptoms of chlamydia in individuals with vulvas will need around 1 to 3 weeks to show up, but sometimes it can take up to a couple of months. The reason for that is the bacteria. Bacteria is a living organism, which means it will have an incubation period that will predetermine its effect before the infection becomes a real problem.
The incubation period will vary depending on different factors like:
- How long does it take for the chlamydia to reproduce
- Are you exposed to a lot of bacteria
- Where is the bacteria, does it infect the throat, anus, or genitals
- Is your immune system well-equipped to protect itself against the bacteria
How Long Will It Take for Chlamydia to Show Up in Men?
Both women and men need the same amount of time for chlamydia symptoms to show up, and there is no major difference in the timeline necessary for the bacteria to reproduce. The only huge difference is the frequency of the symptoms men might experience. Based on statistics, 70% of men don’t notice any symptoms at all, while 90% of women don’t notice physical symptoms only.
Chlamydia Is Not An Easy STD
Chlamydia has always been the “troublemaker”; it’s incredibly difficult to notice any symptoms and get diagnosed quickly. But, if you do suspect you’ve been exposed to this infection, you need to take the incubation period into account. If you get tested too early, you risk getting inadequate results. Paying attention to the incubation of the bacteria can be the difference between a successful and failed chlamydia testing.