Chlamydia and Gonorrhea—Patient FAQ

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The Task Force recommends being screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea if you’re under the age of 30 and if you are sexually active (if you have ever had oral, vaginal or anal intercourse). 

Key Points

  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted infections passed on through unprotected sex
  • They are more common amongst younger people (under 30)
  • If left untreated they can cause serious health problems
  • People with chlamydia and gonorrhea often don’t show symptoms and usually do not suspect that they could be infected
  • It’s a good idea to get screened

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should I be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea if I am not showing any signs or symptoms?

  • There’s a good chance you would not show symptoms even if you were infected.
    • Symptoms include pain when urinating, discharge, bleeding
  • Screening will help catch these infections before there are symptoms and treating them may prevent some health problems.

2. Why screen for chlamydia and gonorrhea?

  • They are the two most commonly reported sexually transmitted bacterial infections in Canada.
    • About 1 in 20 sexually active adults between 15 and 29 years will get chlamydia
  • Screening may reduce the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease.
    • It is painful, can be severe, and may lead to infertility
  • The potential benefits of screening outweigh the harms, and most individuals show a strong preference to be screened.

3. What is involved in being screened?

  • Screening involves being tested for the chlamydia and gonorrhea bacteria.
  • It is a simple test and easy to do.
    • Anyone can provide a urine sample
    •  People with vaginas may provide a vaginal swab

4. What happens if I test positive?

  • Both chlamydia and gonorrhea are curable with antibiotics.
  • You will be prescribed antibiotics and possibly asked to book a follow up appointment to see how you are doing.
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea are infections that are required to be reported confidentially to public health.
    • This may involve notification of your sexual partners

5. Are there any harms?

  •  Some people may feel anxious or embarrassed.
    • We recommend to doctors that they offer screening routinely, so that you don’t have to ask for it
    • Screening should also be offered in a way that does not make you feel uncomfortable
  • It is possible to get a false positive test result.
    • A false positive test shows that you have an infection when you don’t
    • This could lead to unnecessary use of antibiotics without benefit
  • Antibiotic treatment, in people who test positive, can sometimes cause minor symptoms (nausea and diarrhea) and in some rare cases, allergic reactions.

6. How can I prevent sexually transmitted infections in the future?

  • Speak to your health care provider about safer sex practices that are right for you.
  • Talk to your partner(s) about getting tested.
  • Use condoms regularly.