Endocervical culture is a laboratory test that helps identify infection in the female genital tract.
During a vaginal examination, the health care provider uses a swab to take samples of mucus and cells from the endocervix. This is the area around the opening of the uterus. The samples are sent to a lab. There, they are placed in a special dish (culture). They are then watched to see if bacteria, virus, or fungus grow. Further tests may be done to identify the specific organism and determine the best treatment.
In the 2 days before the procedure:
You will feel some pressure from the speculum. This is an instrument inserted into the vagina to hold the area open so that the provider can view the cervix and collect the samples. There may be a slight cramping when the swab touches the cervix.
The test may be done to determine the cause of vaginitis, pelvic pain, an unusual vaginal discharge, or other signs of infection.
Organisms that are usually present in the vagina are there in the expected amounts.
Abnormal results indicate the presence of an infection in the genital tract or urinary tract in women, such as:
There may be slight bleeding or spotting after the test. This is normal.
Reviewed By: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.