U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Get Tested for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis

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 can 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, even if you don’t feel sick.

Can chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis 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 dangerous or impossible for women to get pregnant.

If you have an STD, it’s important to get treatment right away. It’s also important to tell anyone that you have sex with so he or she can get treatment, too. This will help prevent you from getting infected again.

Who needs to get tested for chlamydia (“kluh-MID-ee-uh”) and gonorrhea (“gah-nuh-REE-uh”)?

The recommendations for getting tested for chlamydia and for gonorrhea are the same.

For women:

  • If you are age 24 or younger and having sex, get tested once every year.
  • If you are age 25 or older, get tested if you have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner.

For men:

  • Talk with a doctor about getting tested if you are worried about chlamydia, gonorrhea, or other STDs.

What are the signs of chlamydia or gonorrhea?
Chlamydia and gonorrhea usually cause very similar symptoms – but many people who have chlamydia or gonorrhea don’t have any signs or symptoms.

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

Read more about:

How do doctors test for chlamydia and gonorrhea?
A doctor or nurse can test your urine (pee) for both chlamydia and gonorrhea. Sometimes, the doctor might take a sample from the vagina or penis to test. The test is easy and painless.

Learn more about chlamydia:

Learn more about gonorrhea:

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

For women:

  • If you are pregnant, get tested for syphilis.

For men:

  • If you are a man who has sex with men – and you or your partner has sex with anyone else – get tested for syphilis.

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 of the infection.

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

Tell your doctor if you have symptoms of syphilis.

How do doctors test for syphilis?
A doctor or nurse may test your blood for syphilis. The doctor may also take fluid from a sore to see if the sore is caused by syphilis.

Learn more about syphilis:

Take Action!

Take Action!

Get tested regularly for STDs, especially if you are age 24 or younger. 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, too.

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 (vaginal, anal, or oral) – or to wait until you are in a relationship with only one person and you’ve both tested negative for STDs.

If you know that you or your partner 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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