Used in some of the home-test kits, these are a simple, fairly non-invasive method of getting a sample and testing it. Many people, especially females, prefer doing their own swabs, either to mail in for testing or to give to the doctor to send to the lab.
What Happens During The Test?
The test is normally more frightening looking than it really is. Females, not having to see the swab being taken, are uncomfortable with someone looking at their intimate areas, and males, especially those that experience a burning or itching sensation can find that the swab taking does hurt- occasionally a lot. This discourages many people from getting swabs done. However, this can be a way to insure that the test is accurate. The tests that can use a cheek swab are not normally considered as bad as genital swabs. A few confirmation tests may require throat swabs, similar to the ones used in testing from strep throat.
The swab is then sent to the lab, and the fluids placed into a petri dish that will allow any infections to grow in a controlled area. Like blood, swabs are labeled with a coded identifier, and these are the only way they are known in the lab. These numbers are also used to identify the dishes, and to determine which doctor gets the results when the testing is finished.
Why Is Both A Test And An Exam Needed?
With the swab taken, the doctor can look at any fluids leaking from sores, or other symptoms. For at-home tests, you may not have any symptoms, so you simply can wait – without sex with a partner – until the test results come back. This is a great time to explore other areas of your relationship, and if you use 'toys', spend some time cleaning them with a special fluid designed to be both effective at removing any traces of bacteria and viruses, as well as protecting the finish on them.
In the case of blister-like sores, the doctor can look and see if any of them are infected- giving you a chance to cure the infection in the blister area before any scarring develops. If there are large blisters, your professional may offer to drain them, to avoid reinfection.
Is There A Way To Avoid Swab Tests?
With the possible pain and uncomfortable reaction to someone else doing the swabs, ask your doctor if you can do the swab yourself, either before the appointment or during it. The home tests with swabs seem to be considered more comfortable than having a professional do it - possibly because you are in control of what happens.
In general, swabs are needed for fluids that weep from sores or other openings. A few times, they are the only way to get an accurate diagnosis. PID, trichomoniasis, and an accurate diagnosis of herpes are three of the tests that can only be accurate using swabs.