Gonorrhea tests

Updated on:
February 16, 2022

Getting tested for gonorrhea can be done through a healthcare provider using a urine sample, as well as genital and/or throat swabs. Routine testing looks for genetic material of the bacteria. If you have symptoms, a special test (gonorrhea culture) may also be performed to check specifically for resistance to certain antibiotics.

Anyone sexually active should get tested regularly for HIV and STIs, as it helps prevent infection or reinfection of sexual partners.

What tests are available for gonorrhea?

Most commonly, gonorrhea tests involve the collection of a urine sample, as well as swabs of the affected area(s). A complete form of gonorrhea screening involves collecting urine along with throat swabs, rectal swabs, and genital swabs. Genital swabs collect a sample from the urethral opening of the penis or the cervical opening in the vagina.

For people with a penis, urine samples must collect the "first-catch" of urine, which increases the chances of detection. We recommend that you do not clean your penis immediately before providing the urine sample and do not urinate within an hour before. When providing the urine sample, ensure that you catch the first stream into the cup directly.

Swabbing is important, as urine tests alone can sometimes miss infections, specifically throat and rectal infections that are asymptomatic.

If a blood infection is suspected, your provider may also draw your blood to test for gonorrhea.

In Canada, testing for STIs is free and covered by healthcare, even for uninsured individuals.

Where can I obtain a test for gonorrhea?

Your family physician and most walk-in clinics can perform gonorrhea testing. If you speak to a doctor about getting tested for STIs, they may give you a requisition for you to get your labs done.

Sexual health testing facilities, like STI clinics, are also available to perform screening and treatment.

How long does it take to get the results back for a gonorrhea test?

Usually, test results for gonorrhea take about seven days. During that time, it's essential to abstain from sexual contact to avoid transmitting the infections to other partners.

Reviewed by:
Dr. Caley Shukalek

Caley is passionate about evidence-based, patient-centred care, including telemedicine that can provide high quality care from wherever a patient may choose.

He helped create Alberta's PrEP guidelines and works as a specialist in General Internal Medicine with additional training in sexual health, including HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

He holds an Masters of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, an MD from the University of Calgary and an MSc from the University of Alberta.