When is it necessary to take a swab STD test?

We answer some common questions about STD Swabs

Choosing the correct STD test to suit your needs can often be difficult. In this article we take a look at swab tests and answer a range of common questions about them, including when it’s appropriate to use them and what kinds of swab tests exist.

What is a swab STD test?

Just like with urine or blood, a swab test is a method of collecting a sample for testing against a number of STDs. The swab is rubbed against an area of potential exposure to collect mucus, discharge or fluid. It may also be rubbed against an open blister or lesion that may be caused by an STD. Once collected, the swab sample can be used to identify a range of STDs including chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes depending on where the swab is used.

What kind of swab tests are there?

There are a variety of swab tests, each with their own needs and purpose, including: –

  • Anal swab – this is inserted in the anus to gain a sample of the mucous that lines the anus
  • Throat swab – this takes a swab from the back of the throat in order to test for the incidence of particular bacteria in that area
  • High vaginal swab – this is inserted into the vagina to gain a sample of vaginal discharge from within the vagina itself
  • Urethral swab – this is taken by inserting the swab into the male urethra to collect a sample
  • Symptomatic lesion swab – this is a swab that is taken from a lesion which is open and unhealed to determine what is causing it. Examples of this can include for syphilis and herpes testing.

When should I choose a swab test?

There are a number of occasions when a swab test is necessary to identify for an STD depending on the type of test that you require and the potential exposure that may have occurred.

Following anal or oral sex

Many STIs are localised to the area that was exposed during sexual contact meaning that unless you test within that area you can never be 100% confident that you don’t have the STD. Therefore if you’ve had anal or oral sex it’s necessary to swab in either the throat or anus or both, depending the sexual contact you’ve had.

In the instance of blisters or sores

If you’ve noticed a lesion, blister or sore that you believe could be the symptom of either herpes or syphilis there are a number of tests which allow you to swab the site of the lesion to identify the STD that’s causing it.

If the test requires it

Some tests may require a swab sample rather than a urine sample if the test that you’re taking requires it. For example the instant tests available from Your Sexual Health require a urethral or vaginal swab as the density of bacteria is greater than in urine. This improves the ability of the testing buffer or reagent to react with the STD if it is evident.

Is it necessary to get a vaginal swab STD test?

Unless the test specifically requires a vaginal swab such as with the Instant Tests on offer from Your Sexual Health, it’s often not necessary to use a vaginal swab. This is because a urine sample will usually identify the STI, in exactly the same way, with a comparable accuracy to a swab test. When you consider how easy it is to complete a urine sample test in comparison to completing a vaginal swab test, it’s often far more straightforward to opt for a urine only test.

How soon can syphilis be detected following infection?

How soon can syphilis be detected following infection?

The primary symptom of syphilis usually takes between three to four weeks to show in the form of a small sore known as a chancre. The sore will not normally be painful, but it is highly infectious. Unfortunately it can often pass without detection and the infection progresses. The longer the disease is in your system, the more damage it can do.

Luckily tests are available, such as those from Your Sexual Health that can diagnose the condition as soon as 14 days following infection. This can lead to quick diagnosis if you think you’ve come into contact with the disease, helping you avoid nasty and contagious symptoms.

If the initial primary stage of syphilis passes without detection and the infection progresses to a secondary stage a rash will often appear. Unfortunately, without testing the rash can be mistaken for another condition and syphilis may go undiagnosed for many years. Continue reading

Gardnerella Vaginallis in Men

Can men get gardnerella vaginallis?

Gardnerella vaginallis is a bacteria that can cause bacterial vaginosis. Despite gardnerella mainly affecting women it can still be passed to men as a colonisation within the male urethra. More often than not an infected male will not show any symptoms and treatment is often not required. If a man is symptomatic then treatment can be administered to clear the infection.

Strictly speaking, gardnerella vaginallis or bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be passed from a woman to a man during unprotected sexual intercourse. It’s also not ruled that an infected man can pass the condition to a woman. This article explains a little more about the condition.

About Gardnerella Vaginallis

Garderella vaginallis is a bacteria which can cause bacterial vaginosis (BV) in a woman. Bacterial vaginosis is the result of a change in the bacterial balance within the vagina. Although the condition is not pleasant, it is quite common with 1 in 3 women experiencing the condition throughout their lifetime.

Bacterial vaginosis and gardnerella vaginallis are not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection, but you’re more likely to contract the condition if you’re sexually active and you’ve had a change of partner. It can also be caused by an IUD contraceptive device or by using perfumed products around the vagina.

It can be passed from a woman to another woman during sex, whilst it can also be passed to a man, often without causing any symptoms.

Women who haven’t had sex can also experience the condition.


There are usually no symptoms of the gardnerella bacteria in men, whilst many women can have the condition without symptoms. Those who are symptomatic may experience the following signs: –

  • Vaginal discharge with a strong unpleasant smell
  • Strong vaginal odour and a fishy smell after sex
  • Vaginal itching
  • Painful urination

Diagnosis and Treatment of gardnerella vaginallis

Gardneralla vaginallis can be diagnosed by testing for the condition using either a urine or swab sample. Your Sexual Health offer a wide range of private STI tests that can diagnose the bacteria, including our Profile 1 test.

If gardnerella vaginallis is present when tested then it can be treated using a routine course of antibiotics and it will usually clear in a matter of days. These can be prescribed as part of the service offered by Your Sexual Health.

Guide on STD symptoms and different ways to get tested

Private STD symptoms testing clinic

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can affect anyone that is sexually active. The sexuality or sexual preference of the person does not matter; if you don’t take the right precautions and protection, everyone is vulnerable to STDs.

There often isn’t any way of knowing for sure that you have a sexually transmitted infection or disease without getting tested. Fortunately, the number of STI testing options has increased over time. Before we discuss some of these testing options, it’s important to highlight the symptoms of these STD’s.

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World HIV Day


Since the first known case of HIV in 1959 in Congo, HIV has swept the whole world and killed over 35 million people. This is almost double the population of the Netherlands, which is highly painful to comprehend. However, there has been some success stories along the way, with a lot of people being cured of HIV.  After looking at these different cases you will find similarities, people’s survival rate of HIV is dependant on the detection speed. In other words, the quicker you get tested the more chance you have of being cured or preventing death via HIV. Britain is not an anomaly to this virus, with 103,700 people reported to have HIV. More concerningly, 18100 are completely unaware they have the condition. Highlighting the importance of the upcoming world HIV testing day to ensure people get tested.         

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Which demographic is most likely to contract STI

public health England



According to a recent report published by Public Health England in 2016, the number of people who were diagnosed with STDs went down. However, amongst 15-24 year olds the rates are still quite high. It was reported that males in this age group have been diagnosed with an STI two times more than those aged 25-59. Furthermore, women that are aged 15-24 are also diagnosed with STIs seven times more than those aged 25-59.

The majority of sexually transmitted infections amongst young people were chlamydia, making up a huge 62% of all the sexually transmitted infections in the UK.

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Promising Breakthrough Made in Development of HIV Treatment

New antibodies effective at preventing HIV infection in primates

In what has been described by the International AIDS Society as a “promising breakthrough”, scientists have developed a new antibody that may be effective in preventing and treating infection from the HIV virus.

One of the major problems facing the development of an effective HIV treatment is the genetic diversity of the virus. The HIV virus rapidly mutates so that a single patient can become infected with many different strains, each of which reacts to different antibodies.

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Your Sexual Health Guide to Starting University

Some advice for fresher’s year

Are you among the many students moving to university following success in your A-levels? As you ready yourselves to move to a new city you can look forward to the freedom that moving away from your parents can bring you. You’ll be able to stay out late with no repercussions; enjoy the fun of drinking and socialising with your new friends; and, along the way, you’ll probably hook up with some of the beautiful single people that you meet. However, as you embark on your biggest adventure to date, bare this advice in mind from Your Sexual Health.

Private STI Tests from Your Sexual Health

If you’ve had unprotected sex with someone you don’t know whilst at university or anywhere else then you’re at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Your Sexual Health offer a range of private STD tests and STI home tests that can diagnose your condition in a confidential and timely manner so that you can get the treatment that you need. To find out more about the range of tests that we offer browse our site or contact us today to find out more.