How Long Does It Take For Chlamydia To Show Up on Test Results?

Chlamydia Testing

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A sexually transmitted infection (STI) doesn’t always strike immediately. Take chlamydia, for example. This is one of the most common STIs in the United States. In fact, the CDC* estimates that are roughly 2.86 million chlamydia infections each year. Considering that this STI is so rampant, we often receive questions about the incubation period for chlamydia.

In this blog, let’s explore the common symptoms of chlamydia, learn a bit more about how this infection affects the body, and discuss the incubation period for this infection.

What is Chlamydia?

First things first, let’s take a closer look at the infection itself. After all, leaving a case of chlamydia untreated can lead to health complications. This STI is contracted from unprotected sexual activity with someone who is infected.  By sexual activity, we are referring to vaginal, oral, or anal sex.

Most people who have been infected don’t often realize that they are carrying chlamydia. Truthfully, this particular infection typically  does not show any visible signs or symptoms at all. In situations when symptoms are experienced, we’ve listed the common signs to keep an eye out for.

Chlamydia Symptoms in Men:

For men, the most common symptoms of chlamydia can include:

  • A “burning sensation” while urinating
  • White, cloudy or watery discharge from the penis
  • A pain in and around the testicles

Chlamydia Symptoms in Women:

In certain situations, chlamydia can be even more serious for women. Symptoms are often mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection. However, health complications for women who have untreated chlamydia can be quite serious, including infertility.

Here are the most common symptoms:

  • A “burning sensation” while urinating
  • An abnormal vaginal discharge that may have an odor
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Painful periods or bleeding between periods
  • A fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Itching or burning around the vagina

Know the Incubation Period for Chlamydia

At this point, two things are clear. First, there are different common symptoms of chlamydia for men and women. Second, many people do not experience any symptoms at all. That’s a troubling prospect. While regular testing is always the smartest course of action, it is sometimes helpful to know a bit more about a potential infection first.

This brings us to our main discussion point: the incubation period for chlamydia. But first, what is an incubation period? The incubation period is the time between when a person is first exposed to an infection to the time that person shows the first signs of symptoms. Just as important, you probably want to know how soon you can test for an infection and know for sure it’s an accurate result. This means you will want to know the window period. After an individual is exposed to an STD and becomes infected, there is a period of time before a test will show a positive result is called the window period. Let’s tackle these questions together.

In short, the incubation period for chlamydia is poorly defined and most experts would say it is often seven to 14 days or longer. The window period however, we break down in more detail below.

To be more specific, here are the main points to remember:

  • When should you take your first chlamydia test after potential exposure? Seven days later.
  • How long can it take to receive positive test results? Seven days or longer.
  • If a person tests positive for chlamydia, the infection is easily curable with proper treatment. However, once treatment is complete, that’s not necessarily the end of the situation. In most cases, re-testing is highly recommended.
  • When should you retest for chlamydia after completing your treatment? Three weeks after end of treatment.
  • When should you retest after testing negative? Test once every three months.

Please note: Re-testing is especially important if you have multiple sex partners and had unprotected sex.

All STIs Are Different

Now that you’ve learned the incubation period for chlamydia and its window period, you might be wondering about other common STIs. Well, when it comes to sexually transmitted infections, each STI is different. As such, the timing also differs when it comes to incubation periods, window periods, testing, and re-testing.

When it comes to your sexual health, you can never be too careful. Every sexually active person should be vigilant about tracking down and eradicating these potentially dangerous STIs. After all, testing is the only way for someone to know their status for sure.

To learn more, check out myLAB Box’s helpful “Incubation and Testing Timelines Guide.”

* https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm

Reviewed by Luis Ferdinand M. Papa, MD, MHA

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