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

How the test is used

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

While there are a few ways of testing, the preferred methods are molecular tests, including the NAAT (nucleic acid amplification) test. Because NAATs is so sensitive it is superior to cultures in the detection of Neisseria 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 discharge, urination that causes burning, bleeding during vaginal intercourse
  • For men - proctitis (inflammation of the rectal or anal area), a pus-like discharge 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 Neisseria gonorrhoeae as they are most frequently transmitted in that situation, and the victim can get treatment if they test positive. 

Screening guidelines

The CDC, The US Preventive Services Task Force, American Academy of Family of Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all recommend gonorrhea screening for sexually active women who are at a higher risk, which include women under the age of 25 or those with new or multiple partners. The CDC and ACOG, in this case, recommend yearly screening.

Sexually active heterosexual males, 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 sexually active gay men get screened once a year. 

Increased risk for gonorrhea

People may have an increased risk for gonorrhea if they:

  • They were positively diagnosed with gonorrhea before
  • If they have other STD especially HIV
  • If they have new or multiple partners (s)
  • They do not use condoms properly or consistently
  • If they do commercial sex work (prostitution, sex film actor)
  • If they live in a prison facility

The CDC recommends that pregnant women be tested in the first trimester and repeated again in the third trimester 

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.