Our Health Library information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Please be advised that this information is made available to assist our patients to learn more about their health. Our providers may not see and/or treat all topics found herein.
Gonorrhea tests tell if a person has this disease. They look for the bacterium, or germ, that causes gonorrhea. Testing is done on body fluid or urine samples.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection. That means it is spread through sexual contact. It does not always cause symptoms.
Tests used to find a gonorrhea infection include:
- Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT). NAATs find the genetic material (DNA) of gonorrhea germs. These tests are very accurate. They can be done on urine samples or samples of body fluid from the area where the infection is suspected.
- Gonorrhea culture and sensitivity. This test may be done if you aren't getting better after treatment. It can find the bacteria that cause a gonorrhea infection and the right medicine to treat the infection. This is called sensitivity testing. This test can be done on samples of body fluid from the area where the infection is suspected.
If a gonorrhea infection is suspected, don't have sex until the test results have come back. If the test shows that you have gonorrhea, don't have sex for 7 days after the start of treatment. Your sex partner or partners must also be treated for gonorrhea to avoid passing the infection back to you or to others.
If you have gonorrhea, all of your sex partners from the last 60 days should be tested and treated. And you may need to have tests for other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Why It Is Done
Tests for gonorrhea are done to:
- See if a gonorrhea infection may be causing your symptoms. These may include pain when you urinate, anal itching or bleeding, vaginal bleeding after intercourse, or abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina.
- Screen people who are at high risk for a gonorrhea infection.
- Retest people several months after they have been treated for gonorrhea.
- Check for infection in your newborn if you had gonorrhea at the time of delivery.
How To Prepare
Do not urinate for at least 1 hour before a urine sample is collected.
If you think you may have gonorrhea, don't have sex until you get your test results. And you may want to have tests for other STIs, such as HIV.
How It Is Done
For this method of testing, a sample of body fluid is taken from the area where gonorrhea is suspected. This may include the cervix, vagina, rectum, throat, or eyes. Your doctor may use a swab to collect the sample. Or you may be given instructions on how to collect your own sample.
If you have a urine test, do not wipe the genital area clean before you urinate. Collect the first part of your urine stream, just as you begin to urinate.
How long the test takes
The test will take a few minutes.
How It Feels
Collecting a sample of fluid from the vagina, rectum, throat, or eyes may cause mild discomfort or pain.
Collecting a sample from the cervix may cause mild discomfort. It may feel similar to a Pap test or pelvic examination.
Collecting a urine sample does not normally cause any discomfort.
There is very little risk of serious problems from having a sample of fluid collected from the cervix, the vagina, the rectum, the eyes, or the throat. There may be a small amount of bleeding from the vagina if a sample is collected from the cervix.
There are no risks linked with collecting a urine sample.
No signs of gonorrhea bacteria are found. If a culture is done, no gonorrhea bacteria grow in the culture. More testing for other sexually transmitted infections may be needed to find the cause of any symptoms.
Signs of gonorrhea bacteria are found. If a culture is done, gonorrhea bacteria grow in the culture.
Current as of: April 19, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2023 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.