Endocervical culture: what is it for and how is it performed?

Endocervical culture is a test that is also called vaginal culture or of the cervix. Is a how to obtain endocervix samples and examine them at the laboratory.

The endocervix is ​​a portion of the cervix. It is located just after the external cervical os. Therefore, it can be said that it is the opening of the uterus. What is sought with an endocervical culture is to check if there is an infectious microorganism in this area.

Many times women confuse this test with others, such as cytology. Therefore, in this article we explain everything you need to know about and how it is done.

What is endocervical culture?

Endocervical culture is a laboratory test. It is aimed at identifying possible infections in the female genital tract. To do this, samples are taken from the endocervix, which is the inner area of ​​the cervix.

Once the samples are taken, they are processed in the laboratory. Above all, it is usually done when there is suspicion that a woman suffers from a sexually transmitted disease. For example, if you have changes in vaginal discharge, such as changes in color, odor or quantity.

Endocervical culture not only lets you know if there is infection, but it also helps identify the germs that cause it. That is why a treatment can be instituted depending on the cause.

To do this, the woman needs to be placed on a gynecological table. This makes it easier to insert the speculum. It is the instrument that allows to visualize the cervix. Through it, the swabs with which the samples are to be obtained are introduced.

The sample is taken in gynecology offices with the appropriate instruments for this purpose.

Differences with cytology

Many times the terms of endocervical culture and cytology. It is true that a similar process is required for both. In cytology it is also usually necessary for the woman to position herself in the gynecological position and insert the speculum.

However, the purpose is different. Cytology is done to obtain samples of cells from the cervix. What is sought, in this case, is to identify precancerous lesions in this area.

A kind of brush is used to obtain the cytology samples. Unlike culture, cytology is not done to identify infections. However, it is a screening test that should be practiced every two to three years in women over 25 years of age.

What is the purpose of the exam?

As we have pointed out, the main purpose of endocervical culture is to identify if there is an infection. That is why it is often ordered when there are unusual changes in vaginal discharge.

It may also be indicated if pelvic pain, fever or lesions on the genitals appear. In some cases it can be done with symptoms of urinary tract infections, such as itching when urinating or the urge to do so.

In the same way, it is the basic test to perform if you have had sexual contact with someone who has a sexually transmitted disease. As explained by the World Health Organization (WHO), every day more than a million people contract an infection of this type.

In addition, most of the cases are caused by bacteria, such as chlamydia or trichomonas. Both cause infections that, in many cases, are asymptomatic. If not treated in time, they can lead to serious complications; for example, pelvic inflammatory disease.

Hence the great importance of endocervical culture. With this test it can be revealed if there is an infection and which is the causative microorganism. This allows planning and establishing an appropriate treatment.

Preparation for endocervical culture

Before an endocervical culture it is normal for a woman to feel insecure or uneasy. However, It is a simple test that should not cause any embarrassment. The ideal is to go with comfortable clothes that are easy to remove and put on, since you will have to undress from the waist down.

According to an article in the Medical Encyclopedia, it is recommended not to have sex the previous days. Nor should you use vaginal products or douche before. This is because, if there is an infection, these types of acts help to spread it.

If you are taking any medication vaginally, you should consult your doctor before going to the exam. It may need to be removed. In addition, it is essential that the woman communicate all the symptoms that she has experienced and that she comment on what her sexual relations are like.

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What happens during the test?

Endocervical culture is a simple test that takes a short time to complete. Before proceeding with the cultivation A vaginal examination is usually performed to check for any injury. The entire vulvar and vaginal area is also observed.

To proceed, the woman must undress from the waist down and place herself on the gynecological table. The feet are placed in a higher position, on the supports. This makes it easier to insert the speculum and observe the endocervix.

The speculum is usually inserted without the use of lubricants. However, if there is a lot of vaginal dryness, it can be moistened with water to reduce discomfort. It is normal for the woman to feel some pain and discomfort.

Swabs are introduced through the speculum. They are small cotton buds with which the cervix is ​​rubbed. This is how the sample is obtained, which is sent to the laboratory. The results usually take little time to arrive.

Two swabs should be collected. One of the samples is for direct microscope and the other is used for culture. In the event that chlamydial or mycoplasma infection is suspected, the ideal is to collect three samples.

After obtaining them, the speculum is removed and the woman can go home. If there are suspicious symptoms of an infection, it is recommended not to have sexual intercourse until the results are known.

Female genital tract infections can be sexually transmitted, posing a risk of spread.

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Endocervical culture results

Endocervical culture results are usually obtained within a short time. The result may be normal and no infectious organisms are identified. However, altered results are also likely to be obtained.

The most common infections are due to Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhea and the herpes virus. Chlamydia are more common in young women, although they can occur in anyone.

In a large part of the cases it does not produce symptoms. That leads to serious complications if it progresses, such as pelvic inflammatory disease. It consists of an infection spreading into the uterus and fallopian tubes. It can damage these organs and even cause sterility.

With infection by Neisseria gonorrhea something similar happens. The woman may be asymptomatic, but this bacterium causes complications in the baby in case of pregnancy. Further, it also increases the risk of HIV infection and infertility, as explained by specialists from the Mayo Clinic.

Endocervical culture is a very useful test

Endocervical culture is a simple test to identify if there is an infection in the female genital tract. It is done quickly and is only a momentary annoyance for the woman.

It is very useful when there is suspicion of a sexually transmitted disease. Therefore, all women who experience any symptom or alarm sign should see a doctor to evaluate the performance of the test.