Gonorrhea tests involve testing a
sample of body fluid or urine to see if gonorrhea bacteria (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) are present and may be the cause of an
infection. These tests are used to screen for or confirm a
Several types of tests can be used to detect a gonorrhea infection. Most
tests use a sample of body fluid from the affected area.
Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT). NAATs
detect and make many copies of the genetic material (DNA) of gonorrhea
bacteria. NAATs include polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) and transcription
mediated amplification (TMA). These tests are very accurate and can be done
either on a urine specimen or a sample of body fluid from the potentially
Nucleic acid hybridization test (DNA probe test, molecular probe test). Molecular probe testing detects genetic material (DNA) of gonorrhea bacteria. This test is done on the
body fluid collected from the potentially infected area, most often the
urethra. Samples collected from the throat do not
always provide accurate test results. Often the molecular probe test for
gonorrhea also tests for
chlamydia, another STI with symptoms similar to those
caused by gonorrhea.
Gonorrhea culture. A gonorrhea culture is done on a
sample of body fluid collected from the potentially infected area, such as the
cervix, urethra, eye, rectum, or throat. The sample is combined with substances
that promote the growth of gonorrhea bacteria. Unlike other gonorrhea tests, a
culture can determine if gonorrhea bacteria are resistant to certain
Gram stain. A Gram stain test is done on a sample
of fluid from the penis or, less commonly, the cervix. The fluid is spread on a
microscope slide and stained with a dye that can help identify gonorrhea
bacteria. A Gram stain is less reliable than a culture or molecular probe test
for detecting gonorrhea, but it produces faster results. Gram stain testing
done on a sample from the cervix is not very accurate.
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA, EIA).
EIA testing is done on a sample of fluid from the penis or cervix. An EIA test
detects substances that trigger the immune system to fight the gonorrhea
infection (gonorrhea antigens). An EIA test is less accurate for detecting
gonorrhea than a gonorrhea culture.