Testing For Gonorrhea


Formal name(s) of the test for gonorrhea Neisseria gonorrhoeae Culture; Neisseria gonorrhoeae Gram Stain; Neisseria gonorrhoeae DNA Probe; Neisseria gonorrhoeae by Amplified Detection.

The Reason The Test Is Done

The three main reasons the test are performed are:

  • Diagnosis – analyze the reason for symptoms
  • Screening – to screen sexually functioning people
  • Documentation – to document sexual abuse/assault

Because the signs of gonorrhea can act like chlamydia it is important to be definitive in the diagnosis, as they require contrasting medications. The two have similar symptoms so doctors usually test for both simultaneously.

While there are a few ways of testing, the most popular methods are microscopic tests, including the NAAT test. Because NAATs is so sensitive it is preferable to cultures in the detection of N. gonorrhoeae, also NAAT allows the widest types of specimen types to be tested including:

  • Endocervical wipe to gather sample
  • Vaginal wipe to gather sample
  • Urethral sample (men)
  • Collection of pee (from both men and women)

When Are Tests Ordered?

A doctor can order a test for gonorrhea if any of the symptoms are present

  • For women – increased vaginal seepage, urination that causes burning, bleeding during vaginal intercourse
  • For men - proclitic (swelling and redness of the rectal or anal area), a puss-like leakage from the penis, and urination difficulty due to burning sensation.

The CDC recommends that those who suffer sexual assault get testing for both C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhea as they are most frequently transmitted in that situation, and the victim can get treatment if they test positive.

Screening Guidelines

The CDC and several other leading departments all recommend gonorrhea screening for sexually busy women who are at a higher risk, which include women 25 or younger or those who have new or multiple partners, it is then recommended for yearly testing.

Heterosexual males who are active in sex, on the other hand, were not recommended for screening by those same groups.  Doctors may use their judgment though and consider risks such as the prevalence of cases of STD in the area. The CDC does recommend that gay men engaged in sex get screened once a year.

Increased Risk For Gonorrhea

People may have an increased risk if they:

  • They were positively diagnosed with gonorrhea before
  • If they have other STD especially HIV
  • If they have multiple persons or a new person they engage in sex with
  • They do not use condoms properly or consistently
  • If they work in the sex trade (prostitution, sex film actor)
  • If they are incarcerated in a prison facility

The CDC suggests that pregnant women be tested in the first three months and repeated again in the last three months

It is important to practice safe sex using condoms correctly to help prevent transmission of sexually transmitted disease to yourself and other people. The best way is to abstain from promiscuous activities or sharing drug needles.