How do I get tested for gonorrhea?
We make getting tested for gonorrhea simple. We offer the Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) which is a urine test that is highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its reliability. For best results, be sure you don't urinate for at least one hour prior to your lab visit; you do not need to fast.
This test amplifies the DNA that is found in the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. Molecular tests like this one are generally more sensitive than a swab test of the cervix (women), the urethra (men), or rectum for people who have receptive anal sex. Best of all, the test is easy and safe (no undressing or swabbing required!)...and it's the most accurate gonorrhea test available today.
What gonorrhea test results mean
A positive test result means you have an active gonorrhea infection that can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics. A negative test result doesn't necessarily mean that you are free of the bacteria...sometimes the infection, or signs of the infection, don't show up right away.
If you test positive, we're here to help. You'll have the opportunity to consult with a doctor on the phone right away. We'll answer your questions, prescribe treatment, and help you determine the next steps based on your specific circumstances.
Understanding false-positive or false-negative test results
As with most medical tests, there's a slight chance (1-4%) that a positive test result indicates an infection when there isn't one (false-positive); or a test comes back negative, despite the presence of infection (false-negative). For example, a false-negative test result can happen if an infected person tests too early for an infection to be detected...that means it's possible to get a negative test result but still have an STD.
If you're concerned about the reliability of your test results for any reason (e.g., timing, or your sexual history, or your partner's sexual history), we recommend that you get re-tested three months after your possible exposure to the bacteria to confirm your results...and to minimize the risk of being a carrier and potentially developing more serious symptoms down the road.
Learn more about "testing windows" – the recommended amount of time between potential exposure to an STD infection, and when screening is expected to identify the infection (or re-infection); for example, if you had unprotected sex last night and became infected with gonorrhea, the bacteria wouldn't necessarily show up right away...it can take up to three weeks to test positive.
Even if you were treated for gonorrhea, you could be at risk for re-infection...especially if your partner has not been treated. We recommend that you get tested again to make sure that you haven't been re-infected.
According to The New England Journal of Medicine, 11% of people with gonorrhea get re-infected...all the more reason to re-test and use protection.
Last reviewed by Medical Director Lisa Oldson, MD, January 2011.
Lisa Oldson, MD
Medical Director, Analyte Physicians Group
"The first thing I tell a patient about STDs is that if you're worried about one STD, you should probably worry about all STDs. In other words, if you had unprotected sex and you're worried about a possible HIV exposure, it's important to understand that hepatitis can be spread in the same fashion...ditto for chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and syphilis."