If you’re sexually active, getting tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is crucial, because most STDs do not exhibit symptoms.1 If you have asymptomatic chlamydia, for example, there’s a high chance you can unknowingly pass it to your partner the next time you have sexual intercourse.
If Any of These Apply to You, Have Yourself Tested for STDs
The Mayo Clinic recommends an annual screening for STDs. In the case of gonorrhea, here are the factors for testing:2
• You’re a sexually active woman under the age of 25
• You’re a woman older than 25 and have a new or multiple partners
• You’re a male who engages in sex with other men
• You’ve been diagnosed with HIV
• You have been forced to have intercourse with someone against your will and do not know the person’s sexual history
How to Test for Gonorrhea
There are two types of test that provide accurate results for both men and women:
• Nucleic-Acid Amplification Test (NAAT)
The NAAT is used not only to test for gonorrhea, but also for other STDs. On the patient’s part, the process is simple. You only need to provide a urine sample or a discharge and let the testing equipment do the rest of the work.
Basically, the NAAT uses a series of repeated reactions to make copies of the DNA or RNA of the microorganism that your doctors are trying to detect. The resulting reactions amplify the nucleic acids from the provided test samples, making it easier for your doctor to identify which pathogenic strain is causing the disease.
Before NAAT existed, testing was done by taking cotton swab samples of discharges. With this technology, STDs are easily identified even if there are only a few microorganisms present.3
Note: If you will take the NAAT, it’s recommended that you do not urinate two hours before you submit a urine sample.4
• Gonorrhea Culture
This method entails taking samples of gonorrhea discharges from your infected body parts. Afterwards, the sample is mixed in with substances that specifically help gonorrhea bacteria to grow, confirming your diagnosis. This method can also help check if the gonorrhea strain that infected you is resistant to antibiotics because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea are popping up.5
Note for women: Do not douche, apply vaginal creams or medicines for one whole day before having a gonorrhea culture test, as it could affect the quality of the results.6
Have Your Partner Tested as Well
Once you undergo testing for gonorrhea, ask your partner to do the same. Your partner may be asymptomatic and may spread the disease to other people unknowingly. There’s also a chance you may become infected again with gonorrhea even if you’ve finished treatment, if your partner has the condition but hasn’t been treated.