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What is the genital culture test?
A genital culture test is the one that is used to identify any infection in the genital tract of a male or female. In males, it is done as a penile or urethral culture test. In the case of females, it is done in the form of an endo-cervical culture test; an endo-cervix is the part where the uterus of a female opens outside. A culture genital test spots the presence of bacteria, fungi, or any other organism; it may also help to diagnose the type of organism present, and if multiple species are present in the sample taken, their growth and, colonization.

What is genital culture test used for?
This test can be helpful in multiple conditions like;

  • It is normally used to diagnose genital tract infections.
  • It can also diagnose an STD (sexually transmitted disease) if your partner has been diagnosed with one.
  • A culture, genital test can recognize the organisms or germs which are causing the infection.
  • It can also specify the potential of the organism to divide and cause or spread the infection.

Most females experience vaginal discharge commonly, which normally appears colorless or white, without any odor. This test can also check and indicate what’s causing any unusual changes in the vaginal discharge.
Why and when do you need a culture, genital test?

A genital culture test is usually ordered if you are experiencing any symptoms related to the genital tract, which are unusual. These symptoms can be;

  • Increased vaginal discharge.
  • Unusual coloration of the discharge.
  • Unpleasant odor of the discharge.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Irritation or soreness of the genitalia.
  • UTI (urinary tract infection).

It is recommended that if you experience any of these symptoms, you must get tested before the infection spreads to your internal genital organs. Eventually, an infection in your internal pelvis can lead to serious complications like painful sexual intercourse or infertility. 

What kind of sample is required?

The procedure for the genital culture test involves picking up cells and mucus from the endo-cervix of the females. During a vaginal examination, your healthcare professional will use a speculum to expose your endocervix, and then using a cotton swab sample will be collected from your vagina and cervix. This sample is then sent to the laboratory and is cultured which allows the organism to grow in a special dish. Once the growth of the microorganisms is done, lab technicians will identify and declare them.
Do you need to prepare for the genital culture test?

Your doctor will most likely ask you to follow all of the below-mentioned precautions before taking the test.

  • Stop having sexual intercourse a few days before.
  • Stop using any vaginal or penile medications a few days before.
  • Stop douching (douching causes vaginal and uterus infections). 
  • You should have an empty bladder during the test.
  • Follow the instructions told by your doctor during the procedure.

Are there any risks to this test?

If the test is performed by an experienced healthcare professional, there are no major risks involved, but because a speculum is used to keep open your vagina, you may feel slight pressure and discomfort. You may also experience some cramping during the procedure because of the speculum touching your cervix. It is completely normal for you to experience spotting or slight bleeding after the test.

What does the test result mean?

Your vaginal area normally has some organisms which do not cause any problems. But the presence of some other organisms may cause infections. Mostly, these organisms are sexually transmitted and they may be;

If you have your tests positive, these pathogens can cause diseases like;

  • Neisseria Gonorrhea:

In women, it also starts with abnormal vaginal discharge and, if left untreated, can damagIf detected in men, it causes acute urethritis including painful urination (dysuria) with exudate (pus) discharge.
e the female reproductive system badly.

  • Chlamydia genital infection:

This is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) resulting from unprotected sexual intercourse. It usually has no severe symptoms at the start including pain during urination in males and spotting or bleeding between periods for females.
Once diagnosed, it can be treated using antibiotics, but if it is not treated for a long time, it leads to serious complications like infertility.

  • Herpes simplex virus:

This infection can be caused by (herpes simplex virus) HSV-1 and HSV-2. It is most commonly transmitted through sexual fluids. Its symptoms arise early and include local lymphadenopathy, ulcer formation, and blister formation. It cannot be cured, but antivirals can relieve its symptoms.

  • Syphilis:

Syphilis is a disease caused by Treponema pallidum. It begins with sores on the genitals, around the mouth, or rectum, and they are usually painless. The next stage of syphilis includes rashes. If a healthy person comes in contact with syphilis sores, he will also be infected with the bacteria.
It can be treated using penicillin, but it can cause mental abnormalities, including paralysis and even death if left untreated.

  • Trichomoniasis:

A unicellular parasite, Trichomonas-Vaginalis, causes it. People having this infection usually are asymptomatic. But symptoms might show up later, including unusual colored vaginal discharge with an odor, bleeding after sexual intercourse, wanting to pee more often, etc.

Related tests:

Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on June 04, 2023. 


Socio‐cultural dynamics of female genital culture: Research findings, gaps, and directions: Culture, Health & Sexuality: Vol 7, No 5

Genital Mycoplasmas - Hartmann - 2009 - JDDG: Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft - Wiley Online Library

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