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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are more common than you may realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 people in the United States had an STI in 2018.

Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs that can infect all sexes. The CDC estimates there were 4 million cases of chlamydia in 2018. The infection is one of the most frequently reported bacterial STIs in the United States.

People with chlamydia might not have symptoms, making it a silent illness that can threaten their reproductive organs and cause extreme damage if undetected.

However, the disease is curable with medical attention, and testing is the first step.

Chlamydia is an STI that’s contracted through sexual contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus.

The bacteria, chlamydia trachomatis, can be transferred without ejaculation or even penetration during sexual contact.

Babies can contract chlamydia perinatally during incubation if the mother is living with it, which could result in issues like pneumonia and conjunctivitis.

The CDC reports that chlamydia is most common in young people, as 2/3 of new chlamydia infections impact people between 15 and 24 years old.

The CDC also suggests young women are more prone to the infection, with 1 in 20 women between 14 and 24 years old estimated to have chlamydia.

However, men can also contract, carry, and spread the disease to others.

Risks

One of the most significant dangers of chlamydia is its ability to go undetected. It might not cause visible side effects, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. Its hidden threat can have lasting impacts, mostly for women.

The disease can wreak havoc on people with vaginas by causing pelvic inflammatory disease, increasing the risk of ectopic pregnancies, and potentially causing infertility.

Symptoms

When symptoms are present, they can often take several weeks to appear.

Vagina owners with chlamydia may notice:

  • abnormal vaginal discharge
  • pain during sex
  • a low-grade fever
  • spotting between periods
  • a burning sensation when urinating
  • abnormal discharge that’s yellowish and has an unusual odor

Penis owners with chlamydia may notice:

  • discharge from their penis
  • painful urination
  • swollen testicles
  • rectal bleeding

Chlamydia’s symptoms overlap with gonorrhea, another bacterial STI. This makes it hard to decipher which infection you might be experiencing.

It’s possible to have both chlamydia and gonorrhea simultaneously, but one doesn’t cause the other.

Getting tested is the only way to be sure you’re STI-free. Just because you feel healthy, it doesn’t mean you’re infection-free.

The CDC recommends sexually active women under the age of 25 get screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea each year, regardless of whether symptoms are present.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, some factors that increase the risk of infection include:

  • having a new sexual partner
  • having more than one sexual partner
  • having a sexual partner who is seeing other partners
  • previously having an STI
  • not using condoms consistently outside of a mutually monogamous partnership

To keep it simple: If you’re having sex, you should regularly get tested for STIs. Getting tested can put your mind at ease while also making you a more informed sexual partner.

You should also ask your partners for their status before engaging in sexual contact. While it may feel intimidating, building up the courage to ask can help you in the long run and relay a sign of respect for one another.

Getting tested is a crucial step in getting the care you need. Testing is always important, especially when it comes to STIs.

When researching at-home chlamydia tests, we read studies on effectiveness and online reviews to determine the best tests on the market.

Best budget-friendly option

EverlyWell

  • Price: $49
  • Type: Self collection
  • Results: Within days

EverlyWell claims to have greater than 99 percent accuracy when it comes to their chlamydia and gonorrhea test.

If you test positive, a board certified physician in your state will contact you at no additional cost to discuss your results and prescribe medication.

Every lab used by EverlyWell is Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified. This means the labs meet the standards to obtain both state and federal certifications.

Available tests include:

Best for medical attention

LetsGetChecked

  • Price: $99
  • Type: Self collection
  • Results: 2–5 days

LetsGetChecked has more than 30 testing options covering a range of issues, like diabetes, thyroid levels, and sexual health.

The company can test for 10 STIs with their convenient at-home testing.

Testing options include:

  • Simple 2 ($99): Tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea
  • Basic 3 ($119): Tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis
  • Standard 5 ($149): Tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, HIV, and syphilis
  • Complete 10 ($349): Tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, HIV, syphilis, gardnerella, mycoplasma, ureaplasma, and herpes simplex virus I and II

After placing your order, your test will arrive in discreet packaging. The Simple 2 test only requires a small urine sample taken first thing in the morning.

Return your sample on the day of collection, and your results will be available 2 to 5 days after it reaches the lab.

If your test is positive, LetsGetChecked’s medical team is available 24/7 to answer your questions. The team will call you to explain your results and provide treatment options.

Best in-lab testing

Lemonaid Health

  • Price: $53.16 ($25 visit fee and a $28.16 lab fee)
  • Type: Lab collection
  • Results: 3–5 business days

Lemonaid Health prides themselves on their ability to save time and provide convenience. Rather than visit a doctor’s office, you can visit the Lemonaid Health website to request a consultation with a medical professional.

Unlike other at-home tests, Lemonaid Health requires customers to visit Quest Diagnostics for chlamydia and gonorrhea testing.

The lab tests are processed within 3 to 5 business days, and results are shared through a confidential message on your Lemonaid Health account.

The low price point makes Lemonaid Health a cost effective and convenient option for testing.

Best test for self-collection

Nurx

  • Price: $150–$220 out-of-pocket or $75 with insurance
  • Type: Self collection
  • Results: Within 7 days

Nurx provides three user-friendly kits that cover commonly contracted infections. The test kits include unlimited messaging with Nurx’s medical professionals, shipping, and results.

The Basics Covered Kit tests for gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV. For those concerned about rectal or throat infections, we recommend taking the Healthy Woman Kit or Full Control Kit which provide testing options for various parts of the body.

Since Nurx offers throat and anal swabs, the testing company may catch STIs you would otherwise miss.

Tests offered include:

Most tests are typically covered by insurance. But if you’re uninsured, you can always pay the out-of-pocket cost. The test kit costs $75 with insurance, along with a $15 medical consultation fee.

Best for quick results

myLAB Box

  • Price: $79
  • Type: Self collection
  • Results: Within 2–5 days

If you’re eager for your results, myLAB Box delivers answers within 2 to 5 days.

The at-home testing covers three testing areas and allows you to detect chlamydia of the genitals, mouth, and rectum. The urine and swab collection takes just 5 minutes and shipping to the lab is included.

MyLAB Box is certified by the CLIA and College of American Pathologists (CAP), making them a reliable testing company that meets nationwide standards.

The tests offered are:

If your result is positive, myLAB Box provides a free consultation with a physician who can help to answer your concerns and provide a treatment plan.

Best for early detection

Health Testing Centers

  • Price: $129–$159
  • Type: Lab collection
  • Results: Within 2–4 business days

According to Health Testing Centers, their chlamydia and gonorrhea test can detect an STI within 1 to 5 days of exposure. Since early detection is key, the in-lab testing company can provide fast answers followed by a free medical consultation.

Customers can purchase a test online using a credit card or PayPal (Health Testing Centers does not bill insurance). After payment, you’ll receive an email with your lab requisition, and you can visit a nearby LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics center for testing.

Tests are the same, but prices vary depending on the lab:

How often should I get tested?

The CDC recommends that sexually active women younger than 25 years old get tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women 25 years and older with a new partner, multiple partners, or a partner who has an STI should also get tested annually.

Sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea annually. In cases of frequent sexual encounters with multiple partners, the CDC recommends testing every 3-6 months.

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of an STI, you shouldn’t hesitate before getting tested.

Are STI tests accurate?

Data suggests that most STI tests are very accurate with a small margin of error. If used correctly, at-home tests can be as accurate and effective as in-office tests.

How long should I wait before getting an STI test?

The incubation period for chlamydia is 7 to 21 days. If you’ve had sex with someone who’s positive, or if you’ve had a sexual encounter with a new partner, your results can be detected within the incubation period.

It’s recommended to get tested 3 months after treatment to make sure you’re in the clear.

Are at-home STI tests better or worse than in-person tests?

While at-home tests are effective, in-office tests can remove factors, like poor sample collection, which can impact your results.

For people who are anxious to visit an office in person or those with transportation issues, an at-home test can be a convenient step in getting treatment.

Are STI tests covered by insurance?

Many insurance plans cover STI testing through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). There is a high chance you can get STI testing for free or at a reduced price with your health insurance.

Testing for STIs, like HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, are considered preventive health benefits that many plans cover under the ACA.

STI testing can also be free or low-cost with Medicaid and other government programs.

The coverage of at-home STI tests varies, so it’s best to speak with your doctor or insurance company about your options. Some clinics, like Planned Parenthood health centers, provide free or low-cost STI tests, depending on your income.

Chlamydia is a serious condition that can have long-term effects on the health of you and your sexual partners. STIs should be treated with seriousness and transparency.

It’s wise to get tested regularly when you’re sexually active to keep you and your partners safe.

Getting tested is both healthy and responsible. An in-office test is a reliable way to learn if you have chlamydia or other STIs. But at-home testing is an accessible and fairly accurate way to get the answers you need.

Protect your health and peace of mind by making a plan to get tested in-person or with a private at-home test.

Jillian Goltzman is a freelance journalist covering culture, social impact, wellness, and lifestyle. She’s been published in various outlets, including Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Fodor’s Travel Guide. Outside of writing, Jillian is a public speaker who loves discussing the power of social media — something she spends too much time on. She enjoys reading, her houseplants, and cuddling with her corgi. Find her work on her website, blog, Twitter, and Instagram.