Gonorrhea Testing Accuracy

If you have some of the tell-tale signs of gonorrhea infection or would simply like to have assurance that you are free from this STD, you may be considering a test to check your gonorrhea status. Gonorrhea std testing is a simple procedure, either requiring a urine or swab sample that a lab can process using one of the screening methods available for this bacterial infection. However, before you seek testing you may wish to know how certain you can be with regards to the accuracy of your results. While the gonorrhea tests offered by STD clinics and similar facilities offer a high degree of accuracy, like any other clinical test they can never offer complete certainty that the results are correct. Although there is a small chance that gonorrhea testing inconclusive results will occur, the benefits of receiving a diagnosis and treatment far outweigh avoiding the test for this reason.

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Gonorrhea Results Accuracy

A number of different tests are available for gonorrhea and depending on the labs that process your sample, the one used will differ. Like some other STD tests, the procedure used determine the certainty of the results. Nucleic acid amplification tests that work by replicating the bacteria’s DNA provide highly accurate results and can be applied to either a urine or swab sample. While the nucleic acid hybridization test also provides accurate results when a sample is taken from the cervix or urethra, if infection is thought to have occurred in the throat, samples from here do not tend to yield such accurate results. Culturing the bacteria from a sample can also be used to allow an accurate diagnosis to be made and has the additional advantage that the bacteria grown will give an indication as to the best treatment; this is particularly important now that so many antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea bacteria exist. While gram staining is usually performed on a sample from the penis, where the sample is applied to a microscope slide and stained to allow the bacteria to be visualized to enable rapid identification, it produces less reliable results. Another test that does not produce quite such reliable results is the ELISA method, which detects gonorrhea antigens. However, all of these methods have been approved for clinical testing and are believed to provide sufficiently sensitive results to be confident of their accuracy most of the time.

If for ease you are tempted to use an over the counter gonorrhea test, you need to consider that although you conduct the sample at home, you still need to return it to a lab to be tested; there is always a risk the sample may go missing in transit. You also need to be completely confident that you can collect the sample exactly as directed, otherwise you risk potential contamination and inaccurate results. Beyond this, if you do opt for this service, you need to be certain that you are using the services of a reputable company for your over the counter gonorrhea test, as the risks from obtaining a false result and allowing an STD to go untreated are high.

Factors Influencing Results

The accuracy of the results for gonorrhea testing is reduced under the following circumstances:

  • If you have passed urine in the two hours prior to the test
  • If a rectal sample is contaminated
  • If the vagina has been washed, or lotions or sprays applied during the day leading up to the test
  • If a course of antibiotics has recently been taken

Knowledge of these factors allows you to prepare appropriately before the test or to arrange your appointment accordingly; if you have just finished a course of antibiotics, inform the staff when booking your test and they will be able to advise you when best to make the appointment for. This will reduce the risk of any inaccuracies being introduced so the results of your gonorrhea std testing are a true reflection of your STD status.

If despite following these precautions you are concerned about an inconclusive gonorrhea test or one that provides unexpected results, you may have experienced a false positive or negative result, in which case repeat testing may be advised. Discuss your concerns with the clinical staff at the lab or your doctor and they will be able to advise on the best course of action.