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What is the urine test for gonorrhea called?

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It can infect the genitals, rectum, and throat. Some key points about gonorrhea testing:

Testing urine for gonorrhea involves looking for the presence of N. gonorrhoeae bacteria or their genetic material in a urine sample. This allows for diagnosis of a gonorrhea infection, particularly in the urethra in males or the cervix in females. The main urine test for diagnosing gonorrhea is called a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT).

How the NAAT Urine Test for Gonorrhea Works

The NAAT urine test is a molecular test that looks for the presence of N. gonorrhoeae bacterial DNA in a patient’s urine sample. Here is an overview of how it works:

  • The patient provides a first-catch urine sample, meaning the first bit of urine when they start to urinate.
  • This sample contains discharged urethral cells that may harbor gonococcal bacteria if infection is present.
  • The laboratory extracts and purifies any N. gonorrhoeae DNA present in the sample.
  • Using a technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR), they amplify any bacterial DNA to detectable levels.
  • PCR allows for exponential amplification of even tiny amounts of target DNA sequences.
  • The amplified DNA is detected using florescence, indicating a positive result.

This sensitive molecular approach can detect even low levels of gonococcal bacteria in urine, especially early in infection. The NAAT test provides rapid results, typically within a few hours or less.

Accuracy of the Gonorrhea NAAT Urine Test

The NAAT urine test for gonorrhea is considered highly accurate when performed properly by a qualified laboratory. Some key points about its accuracy:

  • It has a sensitivity of >95% for urethral infections in men and >90% for cervical infections in women when using first-catch urine samples.
  • This means it correctly generates a positive result in most patients who have a gonorrhea infection.
  • The specificity is also >99%, meaning false positive results are rare.
  • In men, first-catch urine samples perform better than random urine samples.
  • NAAT testing of vaginal swabs may be more sensitive than urine testing in some women.

Overall, the gonorrhea NAAT urine test is highly accurate in optimal conditions. However, false negatives are still possible, especially if sample collection is improper. Repeat testing may be necessary in some cases.

Advantages of NAAT Urine Testing

There are several advantages that make the NAAT urine test the preferred method for diagnosing gonorrhea in many settings:

  • Highly sensitive and specific
  • Rapid results in under 2 hours
  • Non-invasive urine sample rather than urethral or cervical swab
  • Detects low levels of bacterial DNA even early in infection
  • Can be performed on standard urine samples unlike culture techniques
  • Can be semi-automated allowing high-volume testing

When is the Gonorrhea Urine Test Used?

Key situations where NAAT urine testing is commonly used to diagnose gonorrhea include:

  • Screening high-risk individuals such as those with multiple sexual partners, intercourse without barriers, sex workers, etc.
  • Testing those with suspected STI symptoms like penile or vaginal discharge or burning urination
  • Retesting after treatment to confirm bacterial cure
  • Routine screening in sexually active women under age 25
  • Testing prior to invasive procedures that could spread infection

The gonorrhea urine test allows convenient screening and testing using an easily collected non-invasive sample. It is commonly used in STI clinics, doctor’s offices, hospitals, and other settings.

Limitations of the Gonorrhea NAAT Urine Test

While highly accurate, there are some limitations to be aware of with the NAAT urine test:

  • False negatives may occur due to improper sample collection or very early infection
  • Does not provide antibiotic susceptibility information unlike culture techniques
  • Only screens for N. gonorrhoeae and not other common STIs
  • NAAT testing is more expensive than rapid gonorrhea tests or microscopy
  • Positive results should be confirmed with culture testing if antibiotic resistance is a concern

If gonorrhea infection is strongly suspected but the urine NAAT test is negative, repeat testing or culture may be warranted. The test only screens for gonorrhea and not other STIs like chlamydia.

Who Should Have a Gonorrhea Urine Test?

The following individuals should have a gonorrhea urine test if they are at risk of infection:

  • Anyone with STI symptoms like discharge or painful urination
  • Sexually active women under 25 years old as routine screening
  • Those with multiple or anonymous sexual partners
  • People who do not use condoms or other barriers during sex
  • Individuals with a sexual partner diagnosed with gonorrhea
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Sex workers or those who trade sex for money/drugs
  • People with a prior history of gonorrhea or other STIs
  • Pregnant women as gonorrhea can cause serious complications and infection of newborns

Individuals should abstain from urinating for at least 1-2 hours before providing a urine sample for optimal results. Certain people may be tested more frequently such as sex workers or those with multiple recent partners.

Reading Gonorrhea Urine Test Results

Interpreting the results of gonorrhea urine testing includes:

  • Positive result – Indicates detection of N. gonorrhoeae DNA and infection is present. Confirmatory culture testing may be done.
  • Negative result – No gonorrhea DNA detected. However, false negatives are possible.
  • Inconclusive result – Test unable to provide definitive positive/negative result. Retesting is required.

Those with a positive gonorrhea urine test require antibiotic treatment and partner notification. Retesting after treatment is important to confirm bacterial cure. Those with negative results but ongoing suspicion of infection may warrant repeat testing or a gonorrhea culture.

Importance of Timely Treatment after Positive Test

It is crucial for patients with a positive gonorrhea urine NAAT test to receive prompt antibiotic treatment. Reasons timely treatment is so important include:

  • Cures infection and resolves symptoms like discharge and pain
  • Decreases risk of complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease in women
  • Reduces risk of spreading infection to sexual partners
  • Helps reduce gonorrhea prevalence in the community
  • Prevents development of antibiotic resistant strains of gonorrhea

Positive gonorrhea urine tests in pregnant women require urgent treatment as well to prevent neonatal infections. Typically dual antibiotics are used to treat gonorrhea infections.

Takeaways on Gonorrhea Urine Testing

Key points to remember about urine testing for gonorrhea include:

  • Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) are the recommended urine test for diagnosing gonorrhea
  • NAAT detects tiny amounts of N. gonorrhoeae bacterial DNA in urine for rapid, sensitive results
  • Urine NAAT testing has advantages like speed, non-invasiveness, and high accuracy
  • Those at risk due to unprotected sex or multiple partners should have routine gonorrhea urine screening
  • A positive gonorrhea urine test requires prompt antibiotic treatment and partner notification
  • Retesting after treatment is important to confirm bacterial cure and prevent spread

In summary, urine NAAT testing is the preferred diagnostic approach for gonorrhea in many clinical settings due to its accuracy, sensitivity, and ease of use. It allows for early identification and treatment of gonococcal infections in high-risk individuals and communities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of sample is needed for the gonorrhea urine test?

The recommended sample is a first-catch urine, meaning the first part of the urine stream. This ensures the sample contains exfoliated urethral or cervical cells where gonorrhea bacteria may be present. Random urine samples are less ideal.

How long does it take to get gonorrhea urine test results?

Most NAAT urine tests for gonorrhea provide results in 1-2 hours or less once the sample arrives at the laboratory. Some clinics can provide results on the same day as sample collection.

Can urine testing tell if gonorrhea is antibiotic resistant?

No, a standard gonorrhea urine NAAT test cannot determine antibiotic susceptibility of the infecting strain. A positive culture is needed to test for resistance patterns. However, urine NAAT can detect the presence of gonococcal DNA associated with antibiotic resistant strains.

What does a negative gonorrhea urine test mean?

A negative result indicates that no N. gonorrhoeae bacterial DNA was detected in the urine sample. However, false negatives sometimes occur, so repeat testing may be warranted if infection is strongly suspected.

How accurate is urine testing for gonorrhea in women?

Urine NAAT testing for gonorrhea in women has a sensitivity of 90-95% using first-catch urine samples. Vaginal swab NAAT testing may have slightly higher sensitivity in some women. False negatives are more common in women than men.


In summary, the preferred urine test for diagnosing gonorrhea is called a nucleic acid amplification test or NAAT. This molecular test can detect small amounts of bacterial DNA in urine through amplification methods like PCR. NAAT urine testing has advantages like speed, sensitivity, and non-invasive sample collection. However, limitations include inability to provide antibiotic susceptibility information and higher likelihood of false negatives in women. Overall, the gonorrhea urine NAAT test represents an important tool in STI control efforts, allowing convenient and accurate screening of at-risk individuals.