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A vaginal swab is a medical procedure in which a healthcare provider collects a sample of cells and/or discharge from the vagina for diagnostic purposes.

This sample can be used for various tests, including:

  1. Pap Smear: This is a common test used to screen for cervical cancer or detect any abnormalities in the cervical cells.
  2. Culture and Sensitivity: A swab may be taken to identify and determine the sensitivity of microorganisms, such as bacteria or fungi, in case of a suspected infection.
  3. STD Testing: Vaginal swabs can be used to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and others.
  4. Vaginitis Evaluation: To diagnose and identify the cause of vaginal infections, such as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, or trichomoniasis.


Vaginal specimen (swab) collected for cervical cytology to detect the abnormities


  • To detect the abnormalities
  • To do routine examination
  • To diagnose and treat the infection
  • To identify carcinogenic cells
  • To do cytohormonal study, to know the progesterone status


Cervical: suspected cervix to exclude premalignant or malignant lesion

Vaginal: vaginitis – to know the specific pathogen and cytohormonal status

General Instructions

  • Smear means to make a fine film of vaginal discharge on a slide and send it for examination of the vaginal discharge
  • Minimum two slides with smear should be sent to the laboratory
  • When trichomonas vaginitis is to be tested the vaginal discharge is collected in a test tube or a hanging drop made on a slides

Preliminary Assessment


  • The doctors order for any specific instruction
  • General condition and diagnosis of the patient
  • Self-care ability of the patient
  • Mental status to follow instructions
  • Articles available in the unit

Vaginal Swap Collection Procedure

Step 1: collect specimen prior to digital examination or manipulation of the cervix to avoid sample contamination

Step 2: during speculum exam, lightly rotate swab across posterior fornix of the vagina for 10 seconds to absorb cervicovaginal secretions

Step 3: remove swab and immerse tip in buffer. Break the shaft at the score even with the top of the tube

Step 4: insert the swab shaft into the hole inside the tube cap and push down tightly over the shaft, sealing the tube with a click. Ensure the shaft is inserted securely to avoid leakage. Label, and send fetal fibronectin sample to a laboratory near you

Preparation of the Patient and Environment

  • Explain the procedure to the patient
  • Arrange the equipment at the bedside
  • Provide privacy
  • Obtain laboratory request and specimen container and slides
  • Position the patient comfortably
  • Instruct the patient to empty bladder


  • Draw Mackintosh and sheet
  • Sterile swab container or slides
  • Sterile gloves or clean gloves
  • Paper bag and K-basin
  • Torch light or spotlight
  • Sterile speculum and water soluble jelly


  • Give dorsal positions
  • Wear clean gloves
  • Take the vaginal discharge with sterile swab stick
  • Smear it on one side of the slide and make thin film over the sides
  • Dry in the slides, then wrap in paper and send to the laboratory

After Care

  • Place the position comfortably
  • Label and send the specimen to the laboratory
  • Replace the articles after cleaning
  • Wash the hands thoroughly
  • Record the procedure in the nurse’s record sheet
VAGINAL SWAB/SMEAR - Purpose, Indications, Instructions,  Preliminary Assessment,  Preparation of the Patient and Environment,  Equipment,  Procedure,  After Care
VAGINAL SWAB/SMEAR – Purpose, Indications, Instructions, Preliminary Assessment, Preparation of the Patient and Environment, Equipment, Procedure, After Care
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