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Gonorrhea Test

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 vagina.
  • 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 screening for:1
  • 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 pregnancy.

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

Direct smear

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 camera.gif) 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.

Urine sample

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 begin urinating.

There are home test kits you can use to collect a swab or urine sample and bring it to the lab for testing.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 28, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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