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Get Tested for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis

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Content last updated on:
February 18, 2014

The Basics

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis are STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) that can be passed on during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. STDs can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby before or during the baby’s birth.

STDs are also sometimes called STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

How will I know if I have an STD?
Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have an STD. Most people who have an STD don’t have any symptoms.

It’s also important to talk with a doctor or nurse if a recent sex partner has been diagnosed with an STD.

Can these STDs be cured?
Yes. These STDs can be cured with medicine if they are treated early. If these STDs aren’t treated, they can cause serious health problems, like making it impossible to have a baby.

If you have an STD, it’s important to get treatment right away. Anyone you have sex with may also need treatment or you could get infected again.

Who needs to get tested for chlamydia (“kluh-MID-ee-uh”)?

For women:

  • If you are younger than age 25 and having sex, get tested once every year.
  • If you are age 25 or older, get tested if you have new or multiple sex partners.

For men:

  • Talk with a doctor if you are worried about chlamydia or other STDs.
  • Tell a doctor if you have any of these symptoms of chlamydia.

What are the signs of chlamydia?
Most people who have chlamydia don’t have any signs or symptoms.

  • Women may have abnormal discharge (fluid) from the vagina, burning when they urinate (pee), or pain during sex.
  • Men may have discharge from the penis or burning when they urinate.

Talk with a doctor or nurse if you have any of these signs.

How is the test done?
A doctor or nurse can test your urine for chlamydia. Sometimes a sample is taken from the vagina or penis to test. The test is easy and painless.

Learn more about chlamydia:

Who needs to get tested for gonorrhea (“gah-nuh-REE-uh”)?

For women:

  • If you are having sex, get tested for gonorrhea if you:
    • Have new or multiple sex partners
    • Don’t use a condom every time you have sex
    • Use drugs
    • Have ever had an STD

For men:

What are the signs of gonorrhea?
Most people who have gonorrhea don’t have any signs or symptoms.

  • Women may have abnormal discharge (fluid) from the vagina, burning when they urinate (pee), or pain during sex.
  • Men may have discharge from the penis or burning when they urinate.

Talk with a doctor or nurse if you have any of these signs.

How is the test done?
A doctor or nurse can test your urine for gonorrhea. Sometimes a sample is taken from the vagina or penis to test. The test is easy and painless.

Learn more about gonorrhea:

Who needs to get tested for syphilis (“SIF-uh-lis”)?

  • All pregnant women
  • Men who have sex with men if they (or their partner) have sex with anyone else

What are the signs of syphilis?
Many people who have syphilis don’t have any signs or symptoms. Some people have symptoms during the early stages (or phases) of infection.

  • In the first stage, a painless sore appears on the genitals, lips, tongue, or anus.
  • The second stage may include a rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, sores in the throat or mouth, fever, or patchy hair loss.

Talk with a doctor or nurse if you have any of these signs.

How is the test done?
The doctor or nurse may test your blood for syphilis. Sometimes fluid is taken from a sore to see if it’s caused by syphilis.

Learn more about syphilis:

Take Action!

Take Action!

Get checked regularly for STDs, especially if you are younger than age 25. Talk with your partner about getting tested, too.

Make an appointment at a health center or clinic.
If you think you may be at risk, talk with your doctor about STDs. To find an STD clinic near you:

Be sure to ask about getting tested for HIV.

What about cost?
Some STD testing and prevention counseling is covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get these services at no cost to you.

Talk to your insurance company to find out what this means for you. For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.

Stay safe.
The best way to protect yourself from STDs is to not have sex or to wait until you are in a relationship with only one person and you’ve both been tested. If either of you has an STD, get it treated before having sex.

Here are some other ways to protect yourself from STDs:

Get tips on talking with your partner about STD testing.

If you are pregnant, talk with your doctor about STD testing.
Having an STD while you are pregnant can be very serious for you and your baby. Find out more about STDs and pregnancy.

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