Doctors or other health care workers usually use three laboratory techniques how to diagnose gonorrhea: staining samples directly for the bacterium, detection of bacterial genes or DNA in urine, and growing the bacteria in laboratory cultures. Many doctors prefer to use more than one test to increase the chance of an accurate diagnosis.
The staining test involves placing a smear of the discharge from the penis or the cervix on a slide and staining the smear with a dye. Then the doctor uses a microscope to look for bacteria on the slide. You usually can get the test results while in the office or clinic. This test is quite accurate for men but is not good in women. Only one in two women with gonorrhea have a positive stain.
More often, doctors use urine or cervical swabs for a new test that detects the genes of the bacteria. These tests are as accurate or more so than culturing the bacteria, and many doctors use them.
The culture test involves placing a sample of the discharge onto a culture plate and incubating it up to 2 days to allow the bacteria to grow. The sensitivity of this test depends on the site from which the sample is taken. Cultures of cervical samples detect infection approximately 90 percent of the time. The doctor also can take a culture to detect gonorrhea in the throat. The culture allows testing for drug-resistant bacteria.
- Bleeding associated with vaginal intercourse
- Painful or burning sensations when urinating
- Vaginal discharge that is yellow or bloody
More advanced symptoms, which may indicate the development of PID, include cramps and pain, bleeding between menstrual periods, vomiting, or fever.
Men have symptoms more often than women, including
- Pus from the penis and pain
- Burning sensations during urination that may be severe
Symptoms of rectal infection include discharge, anal itching, and occasional painful bowel movements with fresh blood on the feces.