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Gonorrhea Test

Test Overview

Gonorrhea tests tell if a person has this infection. They look for the bacterium, or germ, that causes gonorrhea. Testing is done on body fluid or urine samples.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection. That means it is spread through sexual contact. It does not always cause symptoms.

Tests used to find a gonorrhea infection include:

  • Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT). NAATs find the genetic material (DNA) of gonorrhea germs. These tests are very accurate. They can be done on urine samples or samples of body fluid from the area where the infection is suspected.
  • Gonorrhea culture and sensitivity. This test may be done if you aren't getting better after treatment. It can find the bacteria that cause a gonorrhea infection and the right medicine to treat the infection. This is called sensitivity testing. This test can be done on samples of body fluid from the area where the infection is suspected.

If a gonorrhea infection is suspected, don't have sex until the test results have come back. If the test shows that you have gonorrhea, don't have sex for at least 7 days after you finish treatment.footnote 1 Your sex partner or partners must also be treated for gonorrhea to avoid passing the infection back to you or to others.

If you have gonorrhea, all of your sex partners from the last 60 days should be tested and treated.footnote 1 You may need to have tests for other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and syphilis.

Why It Is Done

Tests for gonorrhea are done to:

  • See if a gonorrhea infection may be causing symptoms such as painful urination, anal itching or bleeding, vaginal bleeding after intercourse, or abnormal discharge from the penis or vagina.
  • Check people who are at higher risk for a gonorrhea infection.
  • Retest people 6 months after they have been treated for gonorrhea.
  • Check for infection in a newborn whose mother had gonorrhea at the time of delivery.

How To Prepare

Do not urinate for at least 2 hours before a urine sample is collected.

If you think you may have gonorrhea, don't have sex until you get your test results. And you may want to have tests for other STIs, such as HIV or syphilis.

How It Is Done

Direct sample

For this method of testing, a sample of body fluid is taken from the area where gonorrhea is suspected. This may include the cervix, vagina, rectum, throat, or eyes. Your doctor may use a swab to collect the sample. Or you may be given instructions on how to collect your own sample.

Urine test

If you have a urine test, do not wipe the genital area clean before you urinate. Do no urinate for 2 hours before the test. Collect the first part of your urine stream, just as you begin to urinate. Give the amount of urine that is indicated in the instructions. Giving too much or too little may affect the results of your test.

How long the test takes

The test will take a few minutes.

You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if:

  • You urinate 2 hours or less before collecting a urine sample.
  • A sample from the rectum is contaminated with stool.
  • You douche or use vaginal cream or spray within 24 hours before the test.
  • You take antibiotics before the test.

How It Feels

Collecting a sample of fluid from the vagina, rectum, throat, or eyes may cause mild discomfort or pain.

Collecting a sample from the cervix may cause mild discomfort. It may feel similar to a Pap test or pelvic exam.

Collecting a urine sample does not normally cause any discomfort.


There is very little risk of serious problems from having a sample of fluid collected from the cervix, the vagina, the rectum, the eyes, or the throat. There may be a small amount of bleeding from the vagina if a sample is collected from the cervix.

There are no risks linked with collecting a urine sample.


Gonorrhea test


No signs of gonorrhea bacteria are found. If a culture is done, no gonorrhea bacteria grow in the culture. More testing for other sexually transmitted infections may be needed to find the cause of any symptoms.


Signs of gonorrhea bacteria are found. If a culture is done, gonorrhea bacteria grow in the culture.



  1. Public Health Agency of Canada (2006, updated 2010). Gonoccoccal infections. In Canadian Guidelines on Sexually Transmitted Infections. Available online:


Adaptation Date: 2/24/2022

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

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