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Endocervical Culture

Alternate Names

  • culture of the endocervix

Definition

An endocervical culture is a test designed to detect microorganisms within the endocervix. The endocervix is the upper part of the cervix. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus that extends into the vagina.

Who is a candidate for the test?

An endocervical culture may be ordered for women with the following symptoms:
  • dyspareunia, which is pain with intercourse
  • fever
  • foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • itching or burning of the vagina or vulva
  • low back pain
  • painful urination
  • pelvic pain
  • vaginal bleeding after intercourse or exercise

How is the test performed?

The healthcare professional takes an endocervical smear during a pelvic examination. First, the examiner places a speculum within the vagina. This instrument enlarges the opening of the vagina and allows the provider see the cervix and vagina.
Then, the examiner places a dry, sterile swab within the small opening of the cervix. The swab may be left in place for several seconds to absorb cells. The swab is sent to a laboratory. It is evaluated by a rapid antigen or DNA test for a specific kind of bacteria (e.g. chlamydia) or grown in special media that show the presence of any abnormal bacteria or viruses.

What is involved in preparation for the test?

Women should not douche for 24 hours before the test.

What do the test results mean?

An endocervical culture may show any of the following conditions:
  • cervicitis, or an inflammation of the cervix
  • a sexually transmitted infection, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital herpes, and human papilloma virus infections

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