The Basics: Overview
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that you can get during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. A pregnant woman can also pass these STDs to her baby during birth.
STDs are also sometimes called STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
How do 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 feel sick or have any symptoms.
It’s also important to talk with a doctor or nurse if someone you recently had sex with has an STD.
Is there a cure for chlamydia and gonorrhea?
Yes. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can both be cured with the right treatment. If these STDs aren’t treated, they can cause serious health problems, like making it difficult or impossible for a woman to get pregnant.
If you have an STD, it’s important to get treatment right away. It’s also important to tell anyone you’ve had sex with that you have an STD so they can get treated, too. This can help protect you from getting infected again.
The Basics: Who Needs Testing?
Who needs to get tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea?
The recommendations for getting tested for chlamydia and for gonorrhea are the same.
- If you're age 24 or younger and having sex, get tested once every year
- If you're age 25 or older, get tested if you have more than 1 sex partner, a new sex partner, or a sex partner with an STD
- Talk with a doctor to find out if you need to get tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or other STDs
What are the signs of chlamydia or gonorrhea?
Many people who have chlamydia or gonorrhea don’t have any signs or symptoms. When there are symptoms, chlamydia and gonorrhea cause very similar things.
Women with symptoms may have:
- Abnormal discharge (fluid) from the vagina
- Burning when they urinate (pee)
- Bleeding between periods
Men with symptoms may have:
- Abnormal discharge from the penis
- Burning when they urinate
- Painful or swollen testicles (though this symptom is less common)
The Basics: What to Expect
How do doctors test for chlamydia and gonorrhea?
A doctor or nurse can test your urine for both chlamydia and gonorrhea. Sometimes, the doctor might take a sample from the vagina, penis, rectum, or throat instead. The test is easy and painless.
Learn more about chlamydia:
Learn more about gonorrhea:
Take Action: Get Tested
Get tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea if you're at risk. 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 getting tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Be sure to ask about getting tested for HIV, too.
To find an STD clinic near you:
- Enter your ZIP code to find a local testing site
- Call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
What about cost?
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must cover some STD testing and prevention counseling. 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 more.
Medicare may also cover some STD testing and counseling at no cost for people who are at risk. Learn about Medicare coverage for STD testing and counseling.
If you don’t have insurance, you may still be able to get free or low-cost STD testing. Use this resource to find free testing near you.
To learn more, check out these resources:
Take Action: Protect Yourself
The best way to protect yourself from STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Wait to have sex until you and your partner have tested negative for STDs.
Here are some other ways to protect yourself from STDs:
- Use a latex condom the right way every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Learn how to use a condom the right way
- Make sure you and your partner have been tested for STDs
- If you know that you or your partner has an STD, get treated before having sex
If you're pregnant, talk with your doctor about STD testing.
Having chlamydia, gonorrhea, or another STD while you're pregnant can be very dangerous for you and your baby. Find out more about STDs and pregnancy.
Content last updated June 10, 2021
This information on chlamydia and gonorrhea was adapted from materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and the Office on Women’s Health.
Health Communication Science Office
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention