The test is used in two ways:
- to diagnose the cause of , and
- to screen sexually active people for sexually transmitted diseases.
A definitive diagnosis is important because gonorrhoea can resemble chlamydia infection and the two disorders require different treatment.
A doctor may request the test if you have symptoms such as (for women) a yellow or bloody vaginal discharge, bleeding associated with vaginal intercourse or burning/painful urination; or (for men) pus discharging from the penis or a burning sensation during urination.
While many men with gonorrhoea will experience symptoms, most women do not or they are mistaken for a bladder or other vaginal infection. For men, symptoms usually appear within 2 to 5 days of infection, but can take up to 30 days; for women, those who have symptoms usually experience them within 10 days of infection. Symptoms include, for females, burning or painful urination, increased vaginal discharge and sometimes bleeding between menstrual periods or brought on by vaginal intercourse. For men, symptoms include a white, yellow or green discharge from the penis, a burning sensation when urinating and sometimes painful or swollen testicles. Symptoms of rectal infection include discharge, itching and painful bowel movements. If you test positive for gonorrhoea, you should also be screened for other sexually transmitted diseases and your sexual partner(s) should be tested and treated as well.
If you are infected, your risk of contracting other sexually transmitted diseases increases, including HIV, the that causes AIDS.
The diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease should not be ruled out if the test is negative; patients' clinical symptoms and history should also be considered.