Collecting your vaginal swab sample

Last reviewed Nov 2023

Relax and follow these simple steps

A vaginal swab sample can test for STIs including chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomonas, and mycoplasma genitalium.  It involves inserting a cotton swab into your vagina, it should be quick and painless.

You might feel a bit nervous, but the following tips can help:

  • Read the printed instructions in your kit first - this has the most up-to-date information.
  • Give yourself enough time, so you’re relaxed. 
  • You might want to be in a toilet or anywhere you feel comfortable.

Here's your step-by-step guide on how to collect your sample

Before you start

  • Wash your hands.
  • Unpack your kit.

Be careful you don't touch the tip of the swab. Once the swab is out of the packet, try to make sure the swab doesn't touch anything else apart from the area of your body you are swabbing.

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Take your test

1. Collect your sample

  • Find a position that is comfortable for you. It can sometimes help to put one foot on a chair or the toilet seat, as if inserting a tampon.
  • Hold the swab about 5cm from the top. Gently insert the swab half a finger’s length into your vagina.

  • Rotate the swab around the inside of your vagina 5–10 times, making sure you touch the sides of your vagina.
  • Gently remove and put the swab back into the tube and push tightly to seal it.
  • Place the tube into the transport bag, fold the top of the bag over and seal it.

If the swab comes out with some unexpected blood e.g. due to your period, don't worry - this happens a lot. The test can still be processed and will still give an accurate result, so just pop it in the tube and send it to us as planned.

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You're all done, get ready to return your samples to us.

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2. Complete the form

  • Write your name and date of birth on the form provided, along with the date your samples were collected. If you can’t complete the form yourself, ask someone for help.
  • Place the form and your samples back into the kit box and return the box following the instructions in step three.
  • Please note, your samples cannot be tested without the completed form.

3. Returning your samples

  • Your samples should be returned on the day they were collected. If this is not possible, store them in a refrigerator until returned.
  • Check that each sample has been closed tightly and is in a sealed transport bag.
  • Place your samples and your completed form back into the kit box. Close it securely by inserting the two large tabs on the box lid into the slots, pressing down firmly to lock them into place. Apply the clear security seal provided or add tape for extra security.
  • The return postage has been pre-paid, just drop the kit box into a USPS mail box.