About the Test
Purpose of the test
The purpose of at-home gonorrhea testing is to detect an infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. While gonorrhea testing is typically conducted in a medical setting such as a laboratory, clinic, or medical office, self-collection kits are available and allow individuals to obtain their test samples at home. A person’s doctor should be consulted about whether at-home gonorrhea testing is appropriate for their situation.
The sections below provide information about the purpose of at-home and physician-ordered gonorrhea testing.
Purpose of at-home gonorrhea testing
Although the purpose of at-home gonorrhea testing is to detect a gonorrhea infection, there are no expert guidelines for the use of at-home test kits. Research suggests that collecting samples at home may be a useful way to check more people for this infection and may be especially useful when in-person testing is unavailable or inconvenient.
Purpose of a physician-ordered gonorrhea testing
Gonorrhea testing is used to screen for, diagnose, and monitor this common STD. Finding and treating gonorrhea is important for reducing health complications, stopping transmission to sexual partners, and preventing reinfection.
Screening tests are ordered to detect gonorrhea in people who do not have evident symptoms like discomfort during urination and genital discharge. Around 10% to 25% of people with gonorrhea have few or no symptoms, and gonorrhea in these individuals may only be detected through a screening test. Screening for gonorrhea is recommended only in certain groups at an increased risk of this infection.
Diagnostic testing for gonorrhea is ordered when a person develops symptoms of an infection. To diagnose gonorrhea, doctors consider a person’s medical history, the results of a physical exam, and laboratory test results. People with symptoms of this infection may be tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and other STDs at the same time. Doctors choose between several types of gonorrhea tests based on a person’s specific situation.
Monitoring tests involve retesting patients for gonorrhea after they finish a course of treatment. Retesting helps to detect repeated gonorrhea infections acquired from an untreated sexual partner. In patients with gonorrhea infections in the throat, retesting may also be used soon after treatment is completed to ensure that the infection is cured.
More information about physician-ordered gonorrhea testing is available in our guide to gonorrhea testing.
What does the test measure?
At-home gonorrhea tests provides the materials needed to collect test samples and mail them to a laboratory for analysis. With these mail-in test samples, laboratories typically perform nucleic acid amplification (NAAT) testing, which detects the DNA of Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
When should I get an at-home gonorrhea test?
An at-home gonorrhea test may be helpful for individuals who want to know if they have gonorrhea, especially when in-person testing is not available or convenient. Testing for gonorrhea at home is not recommended for people with symptoms and should not be used as a replacement for seeing a physician.
People interested in at-home gonorrhea testing should talk with a doctor. A doctor is in the best position to explain the benefits and drawbacks of at-home gonorrhea tests.
Benefits and Downsides of At-Home Gonorrhea Testing
Before ordering an at-home gonorrhea test, it may be helpful to consider the benefits and drawbacks of collecting samples at home.
Benefits of at-home gonorrhea testing include:
- Availability: At-home gonorrhea testing is an accessible and convenient approach to screen for this common STD. Ordering an at-home test kit may be a good option when in-person testing isn’t available.
- User-friendly: Test kits provide detailed instructions for collecting, packaging, and preparing samples for testing. Many test kits include free return shipping labels, simplifying the process of sending samples to a lab for analysis.
- Upfront pricing: The total cost of an at-home gonorrhea test is typically straightforward and clear. In contrast, the cost of physician-ordered testing may include a variety of charges, from lab fees to health insurance copays.
- Combining STD tests: Many at-home testing companies offer panels or packages of STD tests, allowing people to screen for a variety of STDs using the same test samples. This approach may save time and money and offer more comprehensive STD screening.
Potential drawbacks of at-home gonorrhea testing include:
- May require follow-up: At-home gonorrhea testing allows individuals to self-collect test samples and mail them to a laboratory for NAAT testing. Other tests used to diagnose and understand a gonorrhea infection, such as bacterial cultures, are not available as an at-home test. A person’s doctor may recommend retesting to confirm positive test results or when another form of gonorrhea testing is more appropriate.
- Not covered by insurance: While physician-ordered gonorrhea tests are often covered by a person’s health insurance, this is not usually the case for at-home test kits. Using an at-home gonorrhea test may mean paying out-of-pocket for STD testing.
- Limited access to a doctor: Many companies offering at-home gonorrhea testing only connect people with a doctor in the case of positive test results. Consultations may be limited to discussing results and not address other health issues or concerns.
- Delaying treatment: Doctors may recommend beginning treatment for the symptoms of gonorrhea before test results are available. In some cases, waiting for the results of an at-home gonorrhea test may delay the necessary treatment.
Types of At-Home Gonorrhea Tests
At-home gonorrhea tests are self-collection test kits, which provide the materials needed to gather a sample of urine or a swab from the genitals, throat, rectum, or another site of potential infection. Test results are typically available within a few business days after the laboratory receives the sample.
Several options are available for people interested in ordering an at-home gonorrhea test, just as an oral gonorrhea test, rectal gonorrhea test, and broader at home STD tests. Test kits vary based on the type of sample used for testing, the process by which the sample is obtained, and the services that are included in the cost of testing.
The following sections describe our top choices for at-home gonorrhea tests.
Sample: Oral swab, Anal swab, Urine
Tests for: Gonorrhea, Chlamydia
Results timeline: Within 2 to 5 days
The 3-Site Chlamydia and Gonorrhea At Home Kit from myLAB Box is our pick for best overall gonorrhea test. Of all the at-home gonorrhea tests we reviewed, this is the only one that detects both gonorrhea and chlamydia in three potential sites of infection: the throat, anus, and genitals.
Before collecting your three samples, be sure to thoroughly review the instructions within the test kit. Swabs of the throat and anus are used to detect oral and anal infections, while a sample of urine is used to detect a genital infection.
After each of your samples is collected and packaged, ship them to the laboratory in myLAB Box’s prepaid mailer. Each laboratory that works with myLAB Box is certified by CAP and CLIA, reflecting strict standards for quality assurance.
Secure results are available in 2 to 5 days. If your test results are positive, the company offers free consultation with a doctor who can provide a prescription and discuss the next steps for your treatment.
Best Membership Option
Everlywell – Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test
Price: $24.99 ($49 without membership)
Tests for: Gonorrhea, Chlamydia
Results timeline: Within 5 to 7 business days
The Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test from Everlywell is our pick for best at-home gonorrhea testing with a membership option.
This test can be ordered through Control, Everlywell’s membership program for monthly at-home testing. As a member of Control, you receive a lab test of your choice each month and gain access to educational webinars and telehealth consultations.
The Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test looks for both of these common infections in one sample of urine. Test kits are shipped from Everlywell’s fulfillment warehouse within one business day after placing your order. The kit contains everything required to collect your sample, prepare it for testing, and send it to one of Everlywell’s CLIA-certified labs.
Test results are available within 5 to 7 business days once the laboratory receives your urine sample. After being notified by email that your results are ready, log in to Everlywell’s online platform to view your test report. For positive test results, Everlywell includes a free consultation with a doctor in your state who can discuss your test and provide medication if necessary.
Best Without Insurance
Let’s Get Checked – Simple 2 STD Test
Tests for: Gonorrhea, Chlamydia
Results timeline: 2 to 5 days
The Simple 2 STD Test from Let’s Get Checked is a good option for budget-conscious buyers who aren’t reliant on insurance coverage. This two-panel test checks for gonorrhea and chlamydia, two of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. You self-administer the test by collecting a urine sample in a container included with your kit. Mail the sample to an ISO- and CLIA-certified Let’s Get Checked lab using the prepaid shipping label and you should receive your results within five business days.
If you test positive for either STD, you can schedule a virtual consultation with a healthcare provider to discuss treatment options. Please note this consultation requires an extra fee of $39. Prescriptions are also available for an additional cost. You’ll receive a full lab report regardless of the results.
The Simple 2 is reasonably priced compared to other at-home gonorrhea tests. While you cannot use insurance to cover the cost, HSA and FSA payments are accepted. You’ll save 30% on your order by signing up for a subscription. Discreet packaging for delivery ensures anonymity and confidentiality.
Interpreting At-Home Gonorrhea Test Results
When the results of at-home gonorrhea testing are available, the test report typically gives a positive or negative result.
Positive test results mean that the test detected the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae and that the person has a gonorrhea infection. After a positive test result, it’s important to follow-up with a doctor to begin treatment and reduce the risk of additional symptoms and health complications. Positive test results also indicate the need for the testing and/or treatment of a person’s sexual partners.
Negative test results mean that the test did not detect the bacteria that causes gonorrhea. However, if a person has symptoms of gonorrhea but receives a negative test result, it’s important to follow-up with a health professional for tailored medical advice, including about whether additional tests are needed to confirm the result or check for other STDs.
Are test results accurate?
Although information about the accuracy of at-home gonorrhea testing is limited, initial research provides support for the use of self-collected test samples. Studies suggest that when samples are collected by a patient rather than a medical professional, the results of testing are no less accurate.
To improve the accuracy of test results, it’s important for individuals to talk to a doctor about preparing for a gonorrhea test. People may be advised to stop douching or applying vaginal creams for 24 hours prior to testing. For urine testing, pre-test guidelines may include not urinating for 1 to 2 hours before the urine sample is collected.
For questions or concerns about the accuracy of at-home gonorrhea tests, patients should talk to their doctor or the company providing the at-home test kit.
Do I need follow-up tests?
After receiving the results of an at-home gonorrhea test, additional follow-up testing may be needed. Follow-up testing depends on the test results, whether a patient has symptoms, and other factors.
Negative test results may require follow-up testing if a patient has symptoms of a gonorrhea infection. A doctor may recommend retesting for gonorrhea or performing tests for STDs and other health conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Even when follow-up testing is not recommended, a doctor can help to determine an appropriate schedule for STD testing.
Positive test results indicate the need for treatment and require follow-up with a doctor. Doctors may recommend another gonorrhea test to confirm the results of at-home testing.
Follow-up testing is also recommended after treatment for a gonorrhea infection. For most patients, this means being screened for gonorrhea and other STDs three months after completing treatment. Retesting is performed to ensure that a person isn’t reinfected by an untreated sexual partner.
In certain patients, including those diagnosed with a gonorrhea infection of the throat, follow-up testing may also be ordered to confirm that treatment was successful in curing the infection. This type of follow-up test is typically conducted 7 to 14 days after a person finishes treatment.
Questions for your doctor after at-home gonorrhea testing
After taking an at-home gonorrhea test, it may be helpful to bring questions about test results to a doctor for additional support and guidance. The following questions may be useful when talking to a doctor about at-home gonorrhea test results:
- What does my test result mean about my health?
- Is additional testing needed to confirm my test result?
- How often should I be tested for gonorrhea?
- Should I be tested for other STDs? How often?
- Should I tell my sexual partners about my test results?
Comparing and contrasting laboratory and at-home gonorrhea testing
Gonorrhea tests, whether conducted at home or at a doctor’s office, use samples of urine or other body fluids to detect evidence of the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. These approaches to gonorrhea testing differ in several ways, including the method of sample collection and access to a medical professional.
When gonorrhea testing is performed by a physician or other medical professional, samples can be collected by either the patient or the provider. The provider is then responsible for careful preparation of the test sample for analysis. In contrast, users are responsible for proper sample collection and preparation when using an at-home test kit.
Although many at-home testing companies provide access to a medical professional in the case of positive test results, these consultations are typically limited to discussion of this individual test. When testing is performed by a medical professional, people have increased access to medical support and guidance related to their sexual health and overall wellness.
One of the most significant differences between physician-ordered and at-home test options is their established role in gonorrhea testing. While initial research suggests that the accuracy of these tests may be comparable, at-home test kits are still relatively new, and there are few guidelines for the appropriate use of at-home gonorrhea tests. Alternatively, physician-ordered testing has an established role in STD testing and allows doctors to choose the most appropriate type of gonorrhea test for a patient’s situation.