A self-collected vaginal swab is a way to test for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This handout explains how to do a vaginal swab. If you have questions, talk to your provider.
Tell your provider if you are pregnant, have belly pain, pain during sex, or unusual vaginal discharge.


  1. Make sure the container has your full name on it.

  2. Wash your hands with soap and water. Dry your hands with a paper towel or let them air dry.

  3. Undress to expose the vaginal area. Get in a comfortable position.

  4. Take the swab out of the package. Do not touch the tip of the swab to any surface (if your kit has 2 swabs, throw one away). Do not get the contents of tube on your skin or in your eyes. If contact occurs, wash your skin or flush your eyes with water right away. Call your provider if irritation occurs.

  5. Hold the swab at the black line.

  6. Use your other hand to pull apart the folds of skin (labia) around the vaginal opening.

  7. Place the swab into the vagina about 2 inches. Gently turn it against the vaginal wall for 10-30 seconds.

  8. Remove the swab carefully. Do not touch the swab to any surface.

  9. Hold the swab with one hand and take the screw cap off the container with the other. Try not to spill the contents of the tube. If it spills, ask for a new kit.

  10. Put the cotton swab into the container.

  11. Line up the black line with the tube rim. Break off the stick at the black line.

  12. Tightly screw the cap on the container.

  13. Wash your hands.

  14. Give the container to staff or leave in the room as directed.

  15. See the back side of this sheet for a step by step picture.

Image 8028