Testing for Gonorrhea
Types of Gonorrhea Tests: What To Expect
Testing yourself for gonorrhea would be a good idea if you have recently had sex with a new partner and are unsure of their sexual health status or risk factors listed above. Depending on the type of gonorrhea test you choose, you may need to provide a sample of one of the following fluids:
- Fluid swabbed from an infected urethra, cervix, vagina, throat, or rectum
To prepare for either of these tests, talk to your doctor about stopping any antibiotics you're taking (some antibiotics can interfere with your gonorrhea test results). Also, be sure to avoid douching or applying vaginal creams for at least 24 hours before your test appointment for accurate results.
Despite the discomfort of talking about it, being open with your healthcare provider can improve the accuracy of your STD test results. Share which parts of your body are involved when you have sex so that your healthcare provider can determine the best place to take the sample from.
A March 2023 meta-analysis in The Annals of Family Medicine showed that urine tests were slightly less accurate than vaginal swabs, but both were above 90% accurate and worth taking.
Urine Tests for Gonorrhea
Urine testing for gonorrhea is a common method that relies on a first-catch urine sample (the urine from the very first part of your urine stream). Your healthcare provider may advise you to stop urinating for at least two hours before the test. Then, they’ll provide you with a sterile cup to collect the first-catch urine.
Typically, lab technicians can identify gonorrhea in urine in a few different ways. The most common is a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), which looks for the genetic material of the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium. This bacterium causes gonorrhea infection.
However, if your healthcare provider suspects you have an antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea, they may order a bacteria culture test instead.
Swab Tests for Gonorrhea
Many healthcare providers recommend a swab test instead of a urine test because they are slightly more accurate. Your healthcare provider will use a cotton swab to collect a sample from the infected area, such as the vagina, urethra, cervix, rectum, or throat. You may be able to swab the area yourself.
The lab will process the swab test in the same way they would a urine test: through nucleic acid amplification.
At-Home Tests for Gonorrhea
You may also be able to test for gonorrhea through an at-home STD test. With this kit, you would collect a urine sample or swab sample according to specific instructions, package it, and ship it to a lab. The lab would process the sample and either call or email your results through to you.
At-home tests are convenient, but they aren’t as accurate as tests from a healthcare provider. For example, you risk collecting the sample incorrectly and getting a false negative. If you don't have symptoms and your gonorrhea does not show up on the STD test, you also risk letting it progress into a condition like epididymitis or pelvic inflammatory disease.
If you want fast and convenient results from a gonorrhea test, it’s better to schedule same-day STD testing with service providers like Rapid STD Testing. You'll receive your results in as little as two business days.