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Do I Need a Gonorrhea Test? What Should I Do Next?

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Dec 23, 2022

Do I Need a Gonorrhea Test? What Should I Do Next?

What Is Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium. To confirm that you have it, you need to take a gonorrhea test.

This bacteria infects the mucous membranes of the reproductive tract. For women, it infects the cervix, fallopian tubes, urethra, and uterus. For men, the bacteria infects the urethra.

Gonorrhea can cause life-threatening bacterial infection and can also cause infertility in both women and men.

Gonorrhea Test 

A gonorrhea test can help determine if you have an infection. Gonorrhea testing is usually done along with a test for chlamydia, another kind of sexually transmitted disease. These two STDs often occur together and have similar symptoms such as abnormal discharge and burning sensations when you urinate.

When Should a Person Get Tested for Gonorrhea?

Individuals engaging in risky behaviors are recommended to take an annual gonorrhea tests.

Risk factors that increases your chances of getting gonorrhea include:

  • Having multiple sex partners
  • Engaging in sex with a partner with an STD
  • Previously having a gonorrhea infection
  • Not using a condom correctly and consistently
  • Pregnant women also need to be tested for gonorrhea. The gonorrhea test is usually included in the prenatal testing. Gonorrhea can cause blindness and severe blood infection if passed on and untreated, to the newborn.

    Symptoms for Women

    Women manifesting the following symptoms should get tested for gonorrhea and other STDs:

    • Pain during sexual intercourse
    • Vaginal bleeding before or after having a period
    • Pain in the abdomen
    • Changes or increase in the amount of vaginal discharge
    • Burning sensation when urinating

    Many of these symptoms can be mistaken for other infections, which is why gonorrhea can go untreated in women for a period of time.

    Symptoms for Men

    Men showing the following signs and symptoms should get tested for gonorrhea and other STDs:

    • Burning sensation when urinating
    • Abnormal discharge (green, yellow, or white) from the tip of the penis
    • Swollen or enlarged testicles
    • Pain in the testicles
    • Swelling of the foreskin

    How Should I Prepare for the Test?  

    For women, do not douche or use vaginal creams 24 hours before the testing. Douching and vaginal creams might cause a false negative. Make sure to inform your health care provider if you practice douching or are using any vaginal creams before the test.

    Both men and women should not urinate 1-2 hours before the test.

    What Kind of Gonorrhea Test Should I Take?

    Direct Smear

    Direct smear tests use a sample of the bodily fluid taken from the area suspected to be infected with gonorrhea. Samples are commonly collected from the cervix or urethra.

    During the procedure for women, the patient lies her back on the examination table and her legs and feet are held by stirrups. A metal or plastic instrument called a speculum is used to gently open the vaginal wall. Samples are taken from the cervix using  a swab, small spatula, or soft brush.

    For men, a swab is inserted into the urethra to take the sample. The urethra is the tube within the penis that allows urine to flow.

    Urine Test

    Urine tests use urine samples sent to the laboratory for detection of the bacteria.

    The patient should provide first-catch collection or the first part of the urine stream. The first part of the urine stream usually carries the bacteria into the cup.

    Home Test Kits 

    Home testing can be an option if you find it difficult to visit a laboratory or physician. This is only advised for patients who are currently speculating if they have gonorrhea, or have mild to no symptoms.

    For moderate to severe cases, please visit a physician immediately.

    Home test kits are usually ordered online or from a laboratory. Instructions on how to collect and store the urine or swab samples are in the kit. After collecting the samples, you can mail them or drop them off at the laboratory specified by your service provider.

    Results are sent to you within 7 days. If your tests come back positive, you will have to set an appointment with your physician for proper management.

    False Results 

    The incubation period is the time between when you get infected and the time you show signs and symptoms. The incubation period of gonorrhea is usually 1 to 5 days. Getting a test too soon might show a negative result. An old infection might also manifest as a false positive.

    Results of Gonorrhea Test

    If your test comes back negative, it means you don’t have gonorrhea. Consult your doctor for additional tests if you continue experiencing symptoms.

    On the other hand, if the test comes back positive, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic regimen to treat the infection. If signs and symptoms do not get better after the treatment, you might be infected with drug resistant gonorrhea and will need to undergo treatment again with a different regimen.

    Avoid sexual intercourse while getting treated for gonorrhea. Seek a doctor’s advice before engaging in sexual activities again. Inform sexual partners of the positive results for gonorrhea so that they can also get themselves tested and treated for the bacteria.

    Key Takeaways

    Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease. Testing for gonorrhea is necessary for diagnosis. Gonorrhea is detected using samples taken directly from the cervix or urethra as well as urine samples. It is advisable to have a gonorrhea test done at the clinic but home tests kits are also an option.

    Learn more about gonorrhea here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Hazel Caingcoy · Updated Dec 23, 2022

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