STDs Expert Forum
Swab Testing
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Swab Testing

Hi Dr. H.,

Quick question. My doctor use a swab (up my penis) to test for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. The test was done 5 days after exposure. Is that long enough time to get conclusive results? Does the swab test pick  up any other infections? the test came back negative for both.

Thanks!
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239123_tn?1267651214
Yes, that's the best method.  Urine can be used for some kinds of test, but even with the best test, a specimen from inside the urethra is best.  Five days after exposure is plenty for gonorrhea, but a tad early for chlamydia; ideally a chlamydia test should be put off until 10-14 days after exposure.  However, this depends a bit on the specific test used by your doctor and his/her laboratory; some tests are better than others.

The test won't pick up any other infections, but gonorrhea and chlamydia are the only ones worth worrying about.

Did you have symptoms, such as discharge or painful urination?  Or was this just a check-up because of a high-risk exposure?  If the latter, you might want to get a second test for chlamydia after 2 weeks; you could have the urine test, without having to go through the discomfort of another swab.

Good luck--  HHH, MD
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Hey Dr. HHH,

I had a high risk exposure (protective vaginal sex). It was wearing a condom and it did not break. My Dr. put me on a 10 day course of antibiotics (just in case) while I was waiting for my test results. He said if I did have either, the antibotics (I can not remember the name)would take care of it.

I don't have any discomfort. Sometime, I would have drip spots in my pants, and it feel like it happens a few minutes after I go to the bathroom. I'm not sure what the definition of "discharge" is. My doctor did not seem to concern, nor did he recommend me to retest. Thoughts?

Thanks again for your help.
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm sorry, one more quick question. How effective are condoms?
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239123_tn?1267651214
Quick question, maybe, but not necessarily a quick answer.  The short version is that properly used condoms are almost 100% effective in preventing transmission of HIV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia--all of which are transmitted by vaginal fluid and semen.  They are less effective for infections that are transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact, such as herpes or HPV.  This isn't because the viruses go through intact latex; they do not.  It is because condoms don't prevent all skin-to-skin contact.

Your doctor used quite a bit of overkill; if you had been my patient, I wouldn't have given the antibiotics after a single high-risk, condom-protected exposure.  But you can skip my earlier advice about another chlamydia test after 2 weeks.

Good luck--  HHH, MD
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Avatar_m_tn
A related discussion, am worried about my discharge and other stuff was started.
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
Seattle, WA
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