Gram Stain of Urethral Discharge
A gram stain of urethral discharge test is used to check for the
presence of bacteria in your urethra. Your urethra is the canal that carries urine from your bladder to
the outside of your body.
This test is particularly helpful for diagnosing sexually
transmitted infections (STIs) and other bacteria that may infect your bladder. Your
doctor may offer this test when you display symptoms of an infection. It will
be performed by your doctor as an outpatient procedure.
What Symptoms Might Call for This Test?
Depending on your infection, several symptoms may occur. The most
- low urine output
- burning during urination
- abnormal vaginal or penile discharge, which may
be foul-smelling or yellow, grey, or green in color
- lesions on your genitals
- swollen lymph nodes in your pelvic region
- pain during sexual intercourse
Lesions that appear on the outside of your genitals, or inside your
urethra or genitals, may cause significant discomfort during urination or
Medical conditions that are often responsible for these symptoms
- chlamydia STI
- bladder infection
- kidney infection
- bacterial vaginosis
- yeast infection
- genital herpes
How Is the Test Performed?
The test is given in your doctor’s office. It may cause a slight
burning or stinging sensation.
Your doctor will take a sample of the fluid from your urethra
using a cotton swab. The swab is then wiped over a glass slide, allowing your
doctor to view the contents under a microscope. The doctor applies stain to the
sample. This is called a gram
stain. Once the stain is applied, the doctor will view the specimen
under a microscope for the presence of bacteria.
Diagnosing the Cause
Your doctor may be able to tell which bacteria are causing your
infection based on what they see on the slide. Depending on the pathogen
involved, a normal reading may vary. An abnormal reading can confirm the
presence of a sexually transmitted infection or a bladder infection.
The gram stain can help your doctor diagnose a bacterial infection.
A viral or fungal infection will not be revealed by this test.
Other tests may be needed depending on your gram stain reading.
Tests that are often ordered include:
- vaginal culture
- penile culture
- Pap smear
- blood test
- culture sample taken from any visible lesions
What Treatment Options Are Available?
The results of your test will determine if treatment is
necessary. In most cases, bacterial infections will require the use of
prescription antibiotics. Depending on your type of bacterial infection, you
may receive an antibiotic. You may also be prescribed pain relief medications
or directed to use over-the-counter pain relief medications.
Viral infections, such as genital herpes, aren’t treatable using
antibiotics. You may be given a combination of antiviral medications and pain
relief medications to treat a viral infection.
You doctor may discuss other treatment options with you.
What Are the Complications of This Test?
There aren’t any risks associated with a gram stain of urethral
discharge. However, complications may arise from an abnormal test reading. Some
infections cause a risk of scarring or impaired fertility if they aren’t
diagnosed and treated promptly.
Call your doctor if you feel pain, discomfort, or experience a
resurgence of abnormal discharge from your urethra or genitals. This may be a
sign of a secondary infection or a flare-up from a viral infection, such as