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Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)
Often, the suspicion of a gonorrheal infection is based on the constellation of your symptoms and an examination compatible with gonorrhea. Doctors or other health care workers usually use one or more laboratory techniques to diagnose and confirm gonorrhea; the staining of biological samples directly for the bacterium, and growing the bacteria in laboratory cultures are routine procedures. Many doctors prefer to use more than one test to increase the chance of an accurate diagnosis.
The staining test (gram stain) involves placing a smear of the discharge from the penis, cervix or infected site on a slide and staining the smear with a dye. Then the doctor or laboratory technician uses a microscope to look for the guilty 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 that good in women. (Only one in two women with gonorrhea have a positive stain.)
The culture test involves placing a small sample of the discharge onto a culture plate (those funny looking chocolate-colored plates) or a charcoal culture and incubating it up to two days to allow the bacteria to multiply. 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. Culture allows testing for drug-resistant bacteria (those that have learned to overcome older antibiotics) - this enables us to ensure that your infection will be erradicated completely.
Because symptoms are not always present, you may be infected with gonorrhea and not know it. You can be tested for gonorrhea. To test for gonorrhea, your physician will use a cotton swab to collect cells via swabs from your genital/other regions potentially infected.