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Gonorrhea Test

Gonorrhea is one of the most commonly reported STDs in the U.S. and is a bacterial infection usually spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

Collection method

Typically urine sample

Test preparation



Ages 18+ only; Could vary by provider

Turnaround time

Typically 48-72 hours

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Gonorrhea testing

Gonorrhea is a curable STI that is spread by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected person. The CDC reports that people infected with gonorrhea often have no symptoms. For this reason, testing is the most accurate way to know if you are infected.

What's measured by a gonorrhea test?

A gonorrhea test looks for the presence of a specific bacteria called neisseria gonorrhoeae.

When should I get a gonorrhea test?

If you're a sexually active woman under the age of 25, the CDC recommends that you get tested for gonorrhea yearly.

If you're a sexually active woman older than 25, you should be tested yearly if you have certain risk factors for gonorrhea, such as a new sexual partner or multiple sexual partners.

According to the CDC, people with other risk factors (such as being a sexually active gay or bisexual man who has sex with other men) may need more frequent gonorrhea testing, such as every 3 to 6 months.

In addition, if you're pregnant, then a healthcare provider should also test you for gonorrhea at least once during your pregnancy.

Outside of these recommended screenings, if you're a woman, the CDC notes that you should also get tested for gonorrhea if you are sexually active and have been having specific symptoms of gonorrhea---such as vaginal discharge, painful sexual intercourse, abdominal pain, bleeding in between periods, or painful urination---without a better alternative explanation.

Symptoms of gonorrhea that may prompt testing in men include tender or painful testicles, scrotal swelling, pain with urination, or penile discharge.

According to the CDC, another reason to get tested for gonorrhea is if a partner has informed you that they have tested positive for the illness.

Some people with gonorrhea may have no symptoms of the disease, so if you've had sexual intercourse with someone with active gonorrhea, you may have contracted the illness even if you're not having current symptoms of the disease.

What to expect with a gonorrhea test

There are two gonorrhea tests: a urine test and a swab test. Either, or both, may be recommended by your healthcare provider.

Before the test

Even though there are typically no special instructions required prior to a gonorrhea test, it can be beneficial to refrain from using the restroom for at least two hours prior to your testing appointment to ensure that you will be able to provide enough urine.

Prior to scheduling your test, it is also advised that you talk with your doctor about any additional preparations.

During the test

For a urine test, your healthcare provider will ask you to use a sterile cup to collect urine from the first part of your urine stream. This process, known as a first-catch urine sample, is important for collecting urine that contains the highest number of bacterial organisms.

A first-catch urine sample may be different from the type of urine sample you are asked to provide at a routine doctor's appointment or annual exam, so be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

With a swab test, your doctor or nurse will use a swab to collect cells from the genital area. For women, this can be done during a routine pap smear. If you prefer, you may ask your doctor if you can do the swab test yourself.

For men, a slim swab may be inserted into the end of the penis. In some cases, a swab may be taken from the anus.

A gonorrhea test may also check for gonorrhea in your throat, anus, or rectal area, depending on your risk factors.

According to experts at the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA), in about 90 percent of cases, rectal and anal gonorrhea infections are asymptomatic. Gonorrheal throat or mouth infections may cause soreness or redness.

For both men and women, this type of collection would involve a testing swab applied to the rectum, anus, or throat.

After the test

Following a gonorrhea test, the CDC recommends abstaining from further sexual activity until after the test results are received.

If your test results indicate an active gonorrhea infection, you should consult your healthcare provider regarding next steps and ensure you avoid spreading the infection to others.

Gonorrhea Test Results

If you test positive for gonorrhea, it means that the specimen that was collected by your healthcare provider (whether via a swab or a urine sample) showed the presence of the bacteria that causes gonorrhea. This means that you have a gonorrhea infection.

When you test positive for gonorrhea, the CDC recommends that you get treated using antibiotics. Getting treated can help cure the disease.

It can also help you avoid the future consequences of an untreated gonorrhea infection, such as the infection spreading to other areas of your body, causing other health complications, or infertility.

When you are treated for gonorrhea infection, the CDC notes that a healthcare provider may also recommend that you get treated for chlamydia because this is another common sexually transmitted infection that can coexist with a gonorrhea infection.

It is essential to take the full course of antibiotics to ensure that you treat the entire infection.

Your sexual partner should also be treated in accordance with CDC recommendations for partner testing.

In some cases, gonorrhea may be resistant to treatment with certain antibiotics, notes the CDC. For this reason, it's important to follow up with your healthcare provider if you're still having symptoms 7 to 14 days after treatment.

According to the CDC, a "test of cure" is not necessary for gonorrhea if you have completed your antibiotics for a vaginal, penile, or rectal infection and are no longer having symptoms. However, if you've been treated for a gonorrheal throat infection, a test-of-cure 7 to 14 days later is recommended.

If you have tested positive for gonorrhea, the CDC recommends retesting after three months to make sure you haven't been infected again.

Finding a Gonorrhea test

The process of testing for gonorrhea is rather easy. If you have a primary care physician, they are likely to request the test. The examination might take place at a medical laboratory, hospital, doctor's office, or community health center.

If you are not under the care of a physician, a gonorrhea test can be ordered for yourself through an online provider like Solv.

Once you've ordered the test online, you will be sent to a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-approved lab for your test with a physician consultation made available to you following a positive test result.

Can I get a gonorrhea test at home?

Some home tests will allow you to test for gonorrhea and other STDs.

However, the CDC does not recommend home tests for anyone who has active symptoms or who has had sexual contact with someone who has tested positive for gonorrhea. This is because home tests will need to be sent to a laboratory, and results can take several days.

If you are at high risk for gonorrhea, the CDC recommends that you be tested by a doctor near you so that you can begin treatment as soon as possible.

Cost of an gonorrhea test

The average national cost of a gonorrhea test alone ranges from $49 to $99; however, the cost of a gonorrhea test will vary depending on your location, your provider, and your insurance coverage.

Combining a gonorrhea test with other STI testing will also increase the cost and there may be an office visit and a laboratory fee that are charged separately.

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Gonorrhea Testing FAQs

Find answers to the most commonly asked questions about lab tests.

Gonorrhea tests are very accurate, according to the NIH. Gonorrhea tests have a false-positive result in less than 3% of cases, and a false-negative result in 0-9% of cases. Reasons for an inaccurate result include a faulty test, testing too early, or human error.
Through most healthcare facilities, the national average cost of a gonorrhea test is between $49 and $99. Because gonorrhea raises your risk of having other STIs, the CDC recommends pairing gonorrhea testing with testing for other STIs---like chlamydia. Getting a panel of STI testing done has a higher cost, and ranges from less than $100 to well over $400. This range depends on the testing location and how many STIs are tested for.
Yes, gonorrhea can be detected through a urine test. It's important to follow your healthcare provider's instructions carefully. According to MedlinePlus, most of the organisms responsible for the gonorrhea infection will be contained in the first 5-20 mL of the urine stream. Collecting too much urine can dilute the urine sample to the point that the bacteria will be harder to detect.
Some rapid gonorrhea tests can provide results in as little as 90 minutes, according to MedlinePlus. When making your appointment, ask your doctor's office if they provide rapid gonorrhea tests or if the sample must be sent to a lab.
Men can be tested for gonorrhea through a urine test or a swab test. Most often, a swab is taken from the genital area or may be taken from the anus. A swab can also be taken from the throat or the eyes. If having a swab test makes you uncomfortable, your doctor may give you the option to perform the swab test yourself.
The test itself takes only a few minutes. However, the appointment for testing may take 30-minutes or longer, depending on the location of your testing facility and if you are seeing a healthcare provider for physical examination. The results can take a few hours, and up to several days depending on your testing location. Your healthcare provider can tell you when to expect your results.
Because gonorrhea often causes no symptoms, a person can carry gonorrhea for months or even years without knowing it, reports the CDC. You can pass gonorrhea to someone else even if you don't have symptoms. If you have risk factors for gonorrhea, you should get tested annually.
Gonorrhea is not transmitted through kissing. Gonorrhea is most often spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, according to the CDC. It is safe to kiss someone with gonorrhea. The CDC also notes that you can also not catch gonorrhea from surfaces such as bed sheets or toilet seats, as it cannot live outside the body.
According to health experts, testing for gonorrhea one week after a sexual encounter will capture most positive infections, while waiting to test until two weeks later will capture almost all infections. The CDC advises that testing too early after the interaction can give you a "false negative" result, which means that your test does not show the presence of gonorrhea because not enough time has elapsed for the bacteria to incubate and become detectable. In this case, it pays to wait a little while.
Without antibiotics, gonorrhea is unlikely to go away on its own. According to the Mayo Clinic, untreated gonorrhea can lead to health complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, which is a painful infection that can damage the reproductive organs. Untreated gonorrhea can lead to infertility. Get tested right away if you suspect you have been exposed to gonorrhea.
If you are exposed to gonorrhea, you may not notice symptoms right away. The CDC notes that it may take 1-3 weeks after being exposed to gonorrhea for symptoms to appear. Some people may not develop symptoms until months later. For some people, symptoms may go away on their own, but that doesn't mean the infection is gone. Always take your full course of antibiotics and get tested again to make sure the bacteria is no longer present.

This publication is not intended to solicit the purchase of laboratory testing from any individual consumer.

Dr. Rob Rohatsch, MD

Updated on Jan 25, 2023

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Rob Rohatsch, MD

Dr. Rob Rohatsch currently serves as Chief Medical Officer for Solv Health. Dr. Rohatsch brings his extensive background in multi-site ambulatory medicine operations, on-demand healthcare, and consumerism to Solv, where he helps drive strategic initiatives in a cross functional executive role. He brings comprehensive healthcare expertise ranging from medical group operations to revenue cycle management and clinical expertise.

Dr. Rohatsch completed his military service in the US Air Force and earned his MD from Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Rohatsch served on the Yale School of Medicine faculty teaching at the medical school and is currently on faculty at the Haslam School of Business at the University of Tennessee teaching in the Executive MBA Program. He also serves on several boards and chairs The TJ Lobraico Foundation.

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