Why It Is Done
Tests for gonorrhea are done to:
- See if a gonorrhea infection may be
causing symptoms such as painful urination, anal itching or bleeding, vaginal
bleeding after intercourse, or abnormal discharge from the penis or
- Screen women who are
at high risk for a gonorrhea infection. Because a gonorrhea infection does not
always cause symptoms, screening is important. The U.S. Preventive
Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends routine gonorrhea
- Check for infection in a newborn whose mother had
gonorrhea at the time of delivery.
Men who have sex with men are at higher risk for a gonorrhea infection.2
Treating a pregnant woman who has a gonorrhea infection
can prevent an infection in her newborn. Screening may be done at the first
prenatal visit. Another test may be done during the last 3 months of
In some cases, gonorrhea tests may be done to determine
if a recently treated infection has been successfully treated. This is not
routinely needed unless gonorrhea has occurred during pregnancy or your sex
partner was not treated.
How To Prepare
Gonorrhea testing is done on:
- Fluid collected from the area of the body that
is likely to be infected. Women should not douche or use vaginal creams or
medicines for at least 24 hours before having a gonorrhea test.
Urine. Do not urinate for 2 hours before a urine sample is collected.
How It Is Done
In a direct smear, a sample of body
fluid is taken from the affected area. In adults, these areas may include the
urethra, cervix, rectum, or eye.
- To collect a sample from the urethra or
rectum, your health professional will insert a swab into the opening of your
urethra or rectum to collect a sample.
- To collect a sample from the
cervix, you will be asked to take off your clothes below the waist and drape a
paper or cloth covering around your waist. You will then lie on your back on an
examination table with your feet raised and supported by stirrups. This allows
your health professional to examine your vagina and genital area. Your health
professional will insert an instrument with curved sides (speculum ) into your
vagina. The speculum gently spreads apart the vaginal walls so the inside of
the vagina and the cervix can be examined. Samples are collected from the
cervix with a swab or small brush.
- To collect a sample from your
eye, your health professional will gently brush the insides of your lower and
upper eyelids with a swab.
If a urine sample is collected for
nucleic acid amplification testing (such as PCR or LCR testing), do not urinate
for 2 hours before the test. Do not wipe the genital area clean before
urinating. Collect the first part of your urine stream, immediately as you
There are home test kits you can use to collect a swab or urine sample and bring it to the lab for testing.