Can doctors recognise chlamydia by sight?
A doctor wouldn’t make a diagnosis based on sight – when a patient comes to the clinic and asks to be tested for chlamydia, there is no way a doctor or nurse can be sure whether or not chlamydia is present just by looking. A chlamydia test may well be positive when there is nothing abnormal to see. This is why if you have been at risk, it is so important to have a test, even if you do not feel anything is wrong.
They will examine you for symptoms though – if you have symptoms, the doctor will examine you. They need to obtain verbal consent from you to do this. You should be offered a chaperone. You can request a doctor with the gender of your choice, but you may be asked to come back another day if this cannot be accommodated there and then.
They might suspect chlamydia without testing first – if a person has risk factors, symptoms and signs suggestive of chlamydia, the doctor may look at a discharge or an inflamed cervix and have a pretty high index of suspicion that this is chlamydia. Unfortunately the only certain way to diagnose chlamydia is by having a test and waiting a few days for the result.
Sometimes, the doctor may suggest treatment before the results are known – this would only be in situations where there would be definite benefit from early treatment for a variety of reasons:
- You have severe symptoms and chlamydia is likely from the sexual history
- You are a sexual contact of someone who has recently been diagnosed with chlamydia
- Clinical diagnosis of non specific urethritis (NSU), cervicitis, or PID
Why testing before treatment is usually recommended – it is generally not advisable to give patients antibiotics unless there is certainty they are needed. Patients can be allergic to antibiotics, get side effects, and also overusing antibiotics increases the likelihood of antibiotic resistance.