Gloved hand holding urine sample used for gonorrhea test

How to Test for Gonorrhea

Medically reviewed by Neka Miller, PhD on December 3, 2019. Written by Jordana White. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Gonorrhea is a very common sexually transmitted infection (STI). While there are many different types of STIs, gonorrhea is among the most commonly spread. If you’re able to detect and diagnose gonorrhea, the infection can easily be treated. If, however, gonorrhea goes unnoticed and untreated, the disease can cause a variety of health concerns. In some cases, disseminated gonorrhea develops—which can cause more severe health problems over time (disseminated gonorrhea occurs when the infection has reached the bloodstream).

If you’re wondering how to test for gonorrhea, there are a variety of options, including the at-home Everlywell Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test.

A gonorrhea and chlamydia test is the only way to know your status for these sexually transmitted infections, so testing is an important step. If your gonorrhea urine test results are positive, begin treatment as soon as possible after speaking to your healthcare provider.

How Does Gonorrhea Spread?

How do you get a gonorrhea infection? Gonorrhea is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact, whether it’s vaginal, anal, or oral. The bacterium, Neisseria gonorrheoea, causes an infection. As a result, you can get gonorrhea any time you have unprotected sex with someone who has gonorrhea. It is important to remember that people infected with the gonorrhea bacterium do not always have symptoms, so you may have been exposed without you or your sex partner being aware.

For this reason, it’s important to consider getting tested for gonorrhea and other STIs before beginning a sexual relationship with any new sex partner or if you’re planning to conceive. For those who may be at an increased risk of contracting gonorrhea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided guidelines around recommended testing frequency.

What Are the Symptoms of Gonorrhea?

While it is true that you could have this infection without any symptoms, common gonorrhea symptoms include [1]:

  • Bleeding between your menstrual periods (women)
  • An increase in vaginal discharge (women)
  • Painful urination, accompanied by a burning sensation (women and men)
  • White, yellow, or green discharge from your penis (men)
  • Swollen testicles (men)

If gonorrhea bacteria have caused an infection in your rectum, you may experience these symptoms:

  • Itching in your anus
  • Discharge
  • General pain, and pain when making bowel movements
  • Rectal bleeding

Symptoms of oral gonorrhea may include:

  • Red, sore throat
  • Fever
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes of your neck

If you have had unprotected sex and are experiencing any of these gonorrhea symptoms, you need to be tested right away for this infection. Fortunately, it is very easy to test for gonorrhea using an at-home Everlywell Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test.

How Do You Get Tested for Gonorrhea?

You can be tested for gonorrhea in several different ways. Both men and women will typically need a gonorrhea urine test, which analyzes your urine sample for the presence of gonorrhea bacteria. An oral gonorrhea test uses swab samples from your mouth as a screening test that helps determine if any detectable gonorrhea bacteria are present. (Note that there is no oral gonorrhea test you can take at home.)

You may also need to have swab samples taken from the anus, vagina, or from the opening of the urethra to ensure a bacterial infection doesn’t go undetected elsewhere in your body.

Where Can You Get Tested?

If you think you have gonorrhea, you can typically get a screening done at your healthcare provider’s office, or at a local laboratory or STD clinic. Of course, many people with suspected STIs are looking for testing options that protect their privacy, which is why home gonorrhea testing kits are a great option to consider. With any kind of gonorrhea and chlamydia test, both at home or in-office, you should receive your test results in just a few days. What’s more, such home tests may be diagnostic rather than screening tests, which means further testing to confirm a positive result may not be necessary.

If you think you may have a sexually transmitted infection, consider taking our at-home testing kit. This test option offers complete confidentiality and, if your results are positive, you will have the option of connecting with a network of independent physicians who can walk you through your treatment options.

How Can You Treat a Gonorrhea Infection?

Gonorrhea is typically treated with antibiotics. If you have a positive test result or gonorrhea, speak with your healthcare provider about treatment options.

What Happens If You Don't Treat a Gonorrhea Infection?

If you suspect you have this bacterial infection or may have been exposed to it, it’s a good idea to get tested as soon as possible—and consider talking with your healthcare provider to learn more about gonorrhea screening. It’s important to know your STI status to protect yourself and your future partners from gonorrhea infections.

Untreated gonorrhea can lead to complications with fertility and pregnancy [2], and you may also pass the infection to your baby.

How Can I Prevent STIs?

Like all other STIs, there are fairly simple ways to protect yourself. Before beginning a sexual relationship with a new partner, get tested for gonorrhea and other STIs. Use condoms, and while it is not a guarantee, choosing monogamous sexual relationships with partners who have received negative STI test results helps reduce your risk.

Wondering about STD testing at home and how to test for gonorrhea? Taking an at-home gonorrhea test is an easy and private way to know your STI status.

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