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Gonorrhea Test

How It Feels

Collecting a sample of fluid from the urethra, anus, or rectum may cause mild discomfort or pain.

Collecting a sample from the cervix may cause mild discomfort. Most women find that the procedure feels similar to a Pap test or pelvic examination. Some women feel slight cramping while the speculum is inside the vagina.

Collecting a sample from the eye is usually painless unless the eyelids have sores on them.

Collecting a urine sample does not normally cause any discomfort.

Risks

There is very little risk of serious complications from having a sample of fluid collected from the cervix, urethra, anus, eye, or throat. Women may have a small amount of bleeding from the vagina if a sample is collected from the cervix.

In rare cases, a person may experience a sudden dizziness or fainting (called vasovagal syncope) because of fear or pain when the swab is inserted into the urethra.

There are no risks linked with collecting a urine sample.

Results

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.

Gonorrhea test
Normal:

No gonorrhea antigens or DNA are found. If a culture is done, no gonorrhea bacteria grow in the culture. More testing for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may be needed to determine the cause of any symptoms.

Abnormal:

Gonorrhea antigens or DNA are found. If a culture is done, gonorrhea bacteria grow in the culture.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Urinating within 2 hours of collecting a urine sample.
  • Contamination of a rectal sample with stool.
  • In women, douching or using vaginal creams or sprays within 24 hours of the test.
  • The use of antibiotics before the test.

What To Think About

  • If a gonorrhea infection is suspected, avoid sexual intercourse until the test results have come back. If results point to a gonorrhea infection, continue to avoid sexual intercourse for 7 days after the start of treatment. Your sex partner must also be treated for a gonorrhea infection to avoid reinfecting you or to avoid infecting others.
  • If you have a gonorrhea infection, all of your sex partners from within the last 60 days should be tested and treated. If gonorrhea is suspected, you may need to have tests for other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection.
  • Only one laboratory test (ELISA, DFA, PCR, DNA probe testing, or gonorrhea culture) is needed to diagnose gonorrhea. Your health professional usually chooses which test to use.
    • Samples for gonorrhea testing may be taken from more than one site.
    • The nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) are more accurate than a gonorrhea culture because they can detect both living and dead gonorrhea bacteria.
  • A gonorrhea culture may be done after a positive nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) or nucleic acid hybridization test (DNA probe test) if your health professional is concerned that you may have antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.
  • In the United States, your health professional must report to the state health department that you have gonorrhea.

To learn more about the treatment for a gonorrhea infection, see the topic Gonorrhea.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 26, 2013
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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