Anal swab

Anal Swab is a relatively painless procedure that is useful in detecting various infections on the anal canal.

This is useful in people who engage in receptive anal sex. i.e People who allow the insertion of the penis, finger or sex toy into their anus. Licking and kissing of the anus (aka Anulingus) can also transmit certain infections.

Several possible infections like Rectal Gonorrhoea and HPV infection that can cause Peri-Anal warts can be diagnosed this way.

What is an Anal Swab?

An Anal Swab is a procedure where a sample of cells or secretions is taken from the anus for testing.

Why is an Anal Swab done?

An Anal Swab is done for several reasons. Most commonly, it is done to diagnose Rectal Gonorrhea and HPV Infection. It is also done to screen for Anal Cancer.

How is an Anal Swab done?

You will be asked to remove your pants and lie down on the couch. The usual position is with you lying on your side and your knees pulled up to your chest. Imagine like you are curling up into a ball. This is commonly known as the ‘Fetal Position’.

Either a small cotton tip stick or a small rubber brush is inserted about 1cm into the rectum. It is then rotated gently and withdrawn.
The whole procedure only takes a few seconds and is painless.

Is an Anal Swab painful?

No. The procedure is very fast and is painless. It is done in the Doctor’s office and does not require any anaesthesia.

How long will it take for me to know the results of my Anal Swab?

Different tests require different times to run. Generally you should have the results in about a week.


Anal swabs are not usually included in comprehensive STD screening packages. This is because not everyone engages in receptive anal sex.

If you do and you are concerned of certain symptoms or infections, please let Our Doctors know. We encourage a very open and non-judgemental discussion of your medical problems. Only then can we provide you with sound and prudent medical advice.

If you are experiencing any discharge, itch, pain or lumps in and around your anus, you should discuss this with our doctors.

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  1. Dear dr.Tan,

    if we’re planning to perform anal swab test for general medical check up (either for new employee or annual MCU), what is the most common test for it, is it anaerobic culture or any specific staining?

    Thank you

    • As far as I’m aware, there is no anal swab test done for any ‘general medical check up’ – anal swab tests are usually targeted for specific infections, e.g. chlamydia and gonorrhea, and would be recommended more for patients with exposures like receptive anal intercourse.

  2. Hello Dr Tan I tested positive for gonorreha after having unprotected sex with a guy the same morning I was tested! My question is if I still have his Semen in my rectum when I tested could his semen test positive for gonorrhea?

  3. What sort of HPV test do you do at your clinic for oral and anal HPV? How accurate are the tests? If the virus is so called dormant, will it show up as negative?

    • HPV DNA test. Even if the HPV infection is not causing any symptoms, the test can still pick it up.

  4. I’m a guy who recently noticed a couple of bumps on the anal region, which seems to be itchy at times. Would it be advisable to do a physical checkup and HPV test? How much would it cost and which of the clinics provide this service?

  5. Dear Mr. Dr. Tan,

    I am writing from Turkey. I engaged in unprotected repective sex with my partner. Now, I feel that I have proctitis, and want to make sure whether it is due to some STIs. In my country doctor are judgemental, and I only can find test kits with cervical swabs. Can I used them as rectal swab also?

    Best Regards,

    • So you should be testing for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia of the rectum. You can find a lab that does PCR tests for these 2 infections. The test is the same regardless of the source of the sample. In short, yes you can use cervical swabs.

  6. doc,

    i having rectal bleeding for few months already. whenever i go to the toilet that’s blood. what really happen? do i need to go for any check?

    • Hi,

      You may want to see a doctor to do a physical and diagnose the reason for your rectal bleed. One of the most common reasons for blood in stools is haemorrhoids, but you need to rule out other causes like polyps, tumors and infections. Please see our article on haemorrhoids for more information

      • How much is your consultation fee? And what will you all do to check ?

        • Our basic consultation fee starts at $35. The very minimum we’ll need to do is get a history of your symptoms and a physical examination. Based on our findings, we may advise additional tests like swabs for wound culture or imaging like a colonoscopy. It’s hard to say what will be needed without reviewing your case though.

          • So you will do a rectal examination and a anal swab? will there be a nurse there, i’m a female.

          • Yes, there will be a female chaperone for close examinations. If you would like , you can also choose to see one of our female doctors. In that case, please do call ahead so we can inform you when they will be on duty.

  7. Dear Dr Tan,

    I just went for a LEEP procedure to remove the abnormal, CIN Grade 2 cells from my cervix that is caused by HPV type 16. I am now very concerned that my anal canal might be infected with that HPV virus because I have had anal intercourse with my last boyfriend, who would very highly like also carry the HPV Type 16 virus due to vaginal intercourse with me.

    I am now extremely worried.. If lets say, an anal pap smear turns out to reveal abnormal cells, what can I do for treatment in Singapore?? It bums me out because I don’t see anal cancer or anal dysplasia being a topic that is discussed at all here in Singapore, let alone find a doctor who could treat anal dysplasia..

    Dr Tan, can you please advise me.. where can I go to treat anal dysplasia if I have it? I heard that such treatments exist in the US.. but I do not know if that’s so in the Singapore context..

    Looking forward to your reply!

    Thanks heaps! xx

    • You are right, there is very little expertise in treating anal dysplasia in Singapore. Years ago I even had to convince the lab to do anal HPV testing. After showing them many papers they finally relented. If you really have anal dysplasia I think the best thing you can do is to see a colorectal surgeon.

  8. Is anal swab test also done anonymously like HIV test?

    • Sorry. Anal swabs cannot be done anonymously. However, you can be assured that all medical information will be kept strictly confidential.

  9. Hey, Doc.
    A couple weeks ago, I hooked up with a long_time friend. There was a condom at first, but it ended without one. A couple days after my period started. Three days after my period, I noticed a slight burning after I urinate. A week later, I noticed tiny flesh colored bumps on the palm of my left hand and on a couple fingers. I’m thinking I might’ve caught something, but what could it be? And how do I go about telling those I infected, if I do have something?

    • Burning during urination – Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, NSU, UTI. Flesh colored bumps on palm – cannot tell unless I see it. You need to be tested. Please see your doctor. Please ask any follow up questions on


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