Urethral Swab

Urethral Swab

Urethral Swab

A Urethral Swab is a procedure where a sample is taken from the Urethra (tube inside the penis) for testing.

Why is a Urethral Swab done?

A Urethral Swab is done to test for STDs that cause Urethritis. This includes testing for Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, NSU (Mycoplasma, Ureaplasma, Trichomonas).

Click here for more info on STDs

How is a Urethral Swab done?

A very thin cotton tip swab is inserted gently into the opening at the tip of the penis. It is then rotated gently and withdrawn.

The whole procedure only takes a few seconds.

In some Medical Centers, instead of a cotton tip, a plastic loop is used. This is usually inserted deeper and can cause more discomfort.

Is a Urethral Swab painful?

Most of my patient describe the urethral swab as ‘uncomfortable but not as bad as they thought’. However, some people might find it painful.

Rest assured that when conducting the swab, I will be as gentle as possible to minimize any pain or discomfort.

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

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

Need more advice?

Come down to Our Clinics for a discussion with Our Doctors, or call our clinics for more information:

Email: hello@dtapclinic.com.sg


  1. jonny sams

    hello goid dr. can staph test be done only through urine analysis?

    • Staph of the urethra? More accurate to do a swab.

  2. Hello dr tan, I got a urithal swab test done in 2009 . I went to the emergency clinic to see what was wrong with my left testicle. It had blown up yo the side of a baseball and it hurt really bad. Due to the fact that I used hand Sanitizer as a lubricant for my masturbation sleeve . The doctor performed the swab test and inserted the q tip in my penis ..he was not gental he did it fast and aggressively I screamed n pouted n almost cried. I yelled out to the top of my lungs stop! !!! He just didn’t feel any remorse about my pain. It was the worst pain I had ever felt in my entire life .after the swab they sent me to get an ultra sound to my testicle. After the ultra sound I talked to the doctor and he was. Informing me to take these antibiotics for gonorrhea an chlamydia and said that it was crucial that I followed the instruction doses .I took all the medicine and the swelling on my testicle went back to normal. I don’t know if the STD went away ,cause of the fact of the pain of the penis swab I never wanted to feel that pain ever in my life. Since then I had only a few girlfriends that I had sex with but always used a condom. I have a masturbation sleeve that I use often but I got smarter to use the right lubrication. Sometimes I use my hand to ejaculate. And when I Jack off I get pre cum before prematurely ejaculation . I. Do it again and the second time the pre cum is foamy at the tip of my penis. Never really bothered me but I was always wondering why its foamy. In a way I am scared that I might still have the STD. Mainly cause I never went back to do a follow up. On the swab thing since then but its just due to the fact that the pain of the swab test I am avoiding. It don’t hurt when I urinate. Its just I’m worried about the foam. I know no one is going to help unless I help my self. But I never want to experience that pain ever in my life again on a scale of 1 to 10 I gave it it a ten + do u have any suggestion for me?

    • Things have changed since 2009. At our clinic we do not do urethral swabs anymore. All tests can now be done using only a urine samples. I have not heard of foamy ejaculate being a symptom of an STD however for such things it does not hurt to be sure.

  3. I had the penis swab done today. The female nurse gave me the swab and told me how to do it. It did hurt…I hope I done it right. I stuck it in the hole of my peniis and now it hurts. Is it normal for someone to do it them self? I’m really worried did I do it right…

    • Yes some medical professionals prefer patients to do it themselves.

  4. Hi Doc,i did a urine and swab test on staph and it all turned out positive and I have been on antibiotics for about 2weeks after the antibiotics I went back to my doctor for another urine and u/s test only to find out that the staph is still deep inside my urehtral and I am placed on another antibiotics.my question is this how long those it take for chronic staph infection to completely cured and the symptoms go away.the symptoms I have presently are burning senstaion on my arms and legs,movement sensation,waist pains and itching.

    • I am not sure your symptoms are even due to Staph. Check the anti-biotic sensitivity in your tests. Make sure you are on the right anti-biotics. Staph infection of the urethra is rare and I really cannot predict how long it will take to eradicate.

  5. Chris Smith

    Doc, I recently two days ago got the swab test done. It is very painful but that’s not the point. Now im having EXTREME pain during urination. Its so uncomfortable that I havent been drinking to avoid urination. It feels like its scar tissue blockage in my tube & when the urine comes up it breaks thru it causing extreme pain. Also a little blood in my urine. I heard this wont last too much longer. What tips or food can i use to ease the pain & heal it quicker??? Please help

    • The swab must have abraded your urethra. The blockage you are feeling is the scab. Drink plenty of cranberry juice.

  6. Hi Dr. Tan,

    2 hours ago I got tested by urethral swab. It was really painful and I tried to pee few minutes ago, the pain was so great that I almost cried.

    I am little bit worried that the stick which doctor put into my penis looked kind of old device and seemed to me that doctor uses same device to each of its patients. After the she inserted that thing, 2nd insertion was with disposable thing with some pink solution on its tip.

    Is it possible to get STD from urethral swab test? Because doctor is using same device?

    Best Regards,

    • Theoretically it is possible. Just like it is possible to get STDs from shared sex toys. I would however be horrified if your doctor is really re-using urethral swab equipment.

  7. Just thought I would mention I have been for a few swab tests and while they are not exactly pleasant they weren’t very painful either…….toughen up guys!!!!

    • drtan

      Thank you for sharing. I think everyone has their own pain threshold. You obviously have a rather high pain threshold. Thank you again for sharing your experience.

  8. Ariel

    Also is it possible to have this inflammation and rash on penis due to e faecalis infection?

    • drtan

      Please post any follow up questions on http://www.askdrtan.com …..

    • Brown David

      what if I post the result of my U/Swab result, can u tell me its implication, severity and treatment?
      Thanks sure Doc.

      • Sorry. This forum is not for medical consultations.

  9. Ariel

    Yes that is what the semen culture said. Heavy growth of e faecalis. Is that treatable and who do i see to treat it? Thank you so much for your help.

  10. Ariel

    Also i did a semen culture and it showed thatbi had heavy growth of e. faecalis. I was put on antibiotics for a month but nothing changed.

    • drtan

      E. Fecalis in the semen? That sounds serious. I would suspect that it is probably a contaminant. I do not think you symptoms have anything to do with Herpes. It sounds more like a chronic skin inflammation. I think you should see a dermatologist for this. Please post any follow up questions on http://www.askdrtan.com

  11. Ariel

    Only get better when i use those two creams. Then comes right back once i stop. Didn’t realize i missed that there. Sorry

  12. Ariel

    I have been diagnosed with herpes but i have had itching on my testicles and a balanitis like rash on my penis for many years now. The rash and inflammation around the head of the penis only when i use hydrocortisone mixed with neosporin. It is really uncomfortable. Also at the urethral opening there is a somewhat fishy smell. Please help.

  13. Questions

    Hi dr, I had a cold a few months ago and he doctor put a this metal cotton tip up my nose about 6 centimetres and that was extremely uncomfortable, with the penis swab how far down the actually shaft does he swab need to go and when I got the swab around my nostril she hit some sort of nerve and heaps of snot poured out is this normal also?

    • Questions

      I meant how far the the actual shaft does the cottton tip need to go**

    • For urehtral swabs the cotton tip is inserted less than 1 cm into the urethra. This is not the platform to ask about your nose problems. Please post any follow up questions on http://www.askdrtan.com

  14. Dear Dr Tan, Thanks for your helpful web page. I also will like to mention I read that someone called you a liar , this is ridiculous, you are obviously here trying to help people.

    Meanwhile though I would like to let you know a month ago, because I developed a stinging glass like symptom in my urethra I had a blood test. The nurse also took two Swabs. The tests are all negative, maybe its caused by a large prosate , however the Swabs were extremely painful, she did it fast and turned it around near the base , inside of the penis. I still have paid in those places , particularly where it entered and where she turned it. She was not a very sympathetic type, rather rough and the blood test left a big bruise where the needled went in , which lasted for a about ten days and now it still has a twinge there.

    I would love to get rid of the pain in the urethra and any advice would be appreciated.

    I am presently taking TRIM antibiotics for one month for a possible hard to find Prostate infection.

    Many thanks

    • Thank you for your show of support. Well, there are all sorts of people out there and try as you might, you cannot please everyone. Looks like there are 2 causes for your urethral pain. The more obvious one is the trauma caused to your urethra by the rough swab. You said it went in as far as the base? That is much much too deep. The more mysterious one is what was causing the pain in the first place. From the way you describe it and all your negative results, I think it is most likely caused by a passed stone. In other words, you had a small stone (more like a grain of sand) in your bladder which was passed out. On its way out, it injured your urethra. Right now I think the best thing to do is to keep your urine as neutral as possible and give your urethra time to heal. Drink plenty of water and take Potassium Citrate. Please post any follow up questions on http://www.askdrtan.com

      • Dr Tan, Thank you for your comments, which are appreciated. Yes I have had swabs years before and thought this one was very deep, I screamed out when she did it. Not much I can do about that now though. I do notice that according to what I drink the urethral pain and sting varies. I would like to try the Potassium Citrate although I am wondering how that goes with the Trimethoprim which I am taking for the prostate, which is ” moderately large” (at around 44 / 48mmmm) prescribed by the clinic as they could not find any bacteria as a precaution. I have seen that the two are not recommended and your opinion would be once again appreciated.

        • It is very difficult for me to follow a conversation thread on this platform. Please post follow up questions on http://www.askdrtan.com. That platform is much better for conversation threads.

  15. I had the test and it came back that out clean (Uncomfortable describes the feeling, it was no way near sore as some people have made it out to be!!). I’m still waiting on my urine test results. Does it rule out any STI’s or is it still possible the urine results might find something?

  16. How much would one cost?

  17. Nice work from you doctor. My girlfriend was dignosed of an infection through vaginal swab and I was advice to go for urethral swab as well, we don’t really have sex often. Is it possible to be free from the infection from her ? Or is that the best test I can do check up myself ?

    • The fact that you GF is infected and both of you have had sex means that you could be infected. You should test. Or you can just assume you have what she has and get the treatment.

  18. I had my urethra swabbed at a clinic in Florida in 2011 (20, or 21 at the time). The procedure was in response to a semen-like discharge that turned out to be a symptom of UTI.

    On a pain scale of 1 – 10 this was an 8. My 1 would be the pain associated with flicking a wall, or pinching myself, my 9 would be having 3 layers of skin peeled off the bottom of my foot, or hitting my head on a tennis court while moving at 25 MPH.

    Just avoid this procedure if safe, and if there is an alternative.

    I may have had a seriously sensetive urethra, an abnormally large swab, a poorly done procedure, or greatly heightened nerves. Maybe all of these things were true. But I felt terrible pain. I passed out immediately (within 20 seconds) after having the swab extracted.

    I dod not scream. I had a hard time starting stream to pee for the rest of the day. This was partly psychological, but peeing was painful.

    Also. Dr. Tan is awesome. I experienced a painful procedure. But that doesn’t make him a liar.

    • Hi Ryan. Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us and thank you for the vote of confidence. I really like the way you qualified the pain scale. Very humorous indeed! I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. Thankfully there are tests available now that can all be done with only a urine sample. I almost never take urethral swabs anymore.

  19. Can a penal swab be used to detect the presence of illegal drugs?

  20. Hi docter are there antibiotics that you can buy over the counter for chlamidya or ghonnerea which are safe and efficient to use In the uk which is the best antibiotic for either thank you

    • Not that I am aware of. There is also no ‘best antibiotic’. Which antibiotic to use depends on the antibiotic resitance of your particular strain or at least based on a best guess taking into account the antibiotic resistance trends in your area.

  21. Hello there,

    I know Im a female, but had a swab test because i suffered from severe pains. After the test i found it was too painful to urinate. Its now been nearly 24 hours since my test and can still not go. Any advice of what i can do. I’ve tried drinking water, relaxing in a bath, but nothing works. Please help.

    Many thanks

    • I assume you had a vaginal swab not a urethral swab. It is likely that the procedure aggravated the initial problem. Perhaps you have a vaginitis or cervicitis that was aggravated by the procedure (more likely the speculum than the swab). This does not sound like a problem that you can solve on your own. I think you really need to revisit your doctor.

  22. Hi Dr Tan, how much it cost to do a Urethral Swab?

  23. trichome tetrahydron

    sorry doc but i have to agree with some of the other posters here. i just had two done today and i am in a LOT of pain and discomfort even after several hours. during the swab i would rate my pain at about 8.5. it all depends on who is performing it i honestly feel…

  24. Peter green

    How long does it take for the pain to go away? I am still in pain after 5 days.

  25. good day Dr. I have an ureth. Test just 3 days ago, d result is out but am stil confused, is not so painful like that, my own subsided within 5 minutes, pls help me. There is place they wrote sensitive to and resisistance to, pls reply

  26. I m a medical lab scientist. I agree with Dr. Tan, d severity of pains experienced by patients who undergo urethral swab depends on how skilfull d person that collects it is. I do collect from patients, n I dont see dem scream. What I do is that, immediately d cotton swab is inside d urethra , i just turn gently twice and I m done. Maybe some health personnels insert d swab upto d level of d stick all inside d urethra n that ll cause a high deg of pains.

  27. Ramos

    Well I just had a swab test done today for the first time in my life. I happen to be visiting Ukraine for a while so had to get it done in an old soviet style hospital. I would say that the process is a bit painful but not like what everyone says here. Even though in my case, I was not even asked to sit or lay down, I was standing with my shorts pulled down and the doctor didnt care to be gentle with the swab. He just pushed it into my penis almost till the end, turned it around and pulled it back out. Total time it took was a few seconds, yes it does hurt but not to such extreme levels. I do believe if the doctor had been more gentle, it might have hurt even less.

    • Duggard

      “Pushed it in your penis almost until the end” and it was only “a bit painful…but not extreme” ???. That would be like about 6 to 8 inches! I think you are telling a tall tale–3/4 inch to 1 1/2 inches would be more accurate and even Dr. Tan would say 6 to 8 inches would hurt more than just “a bit.” That far in buddy and the swab would be through the prostate and into your bladder.

  28. The swab made my penis hurt like a volcano spitting lava! Basically it’s tilt your head back and scream as the best senses that God bestowed upon you are erased forever while the doctor muses and smiles. Unbearable misery both during the exam and for days afterward. Believe me your penis and your ejactulation will never feel right again.

  29. Francis

    I had an unprotected sex with a girl and after three days she complained of having itches, discharge n rashes. I feel really fine, no symptoms of sti or stds. What could ve been the problem.

  30. riley h

    Is this required to have because i dont think i wanna do this

  31. Steph S

    Hello Mr. Chen,

    A male friend of mine had the penis swab test last Tuesday (march 19,2012). He told me it was very painful. He says that his penis hurts to touch and he walks very slowly because his penis hurts. He says that it feels like the pain is getting worse and not better. I told him maybe to take asprin to relieve the pain but I’m not sure he has. At this point its been 10 days and the pain for him still persists. He told me there was no pain prior to the test but now there is. He says that get routine std and none have came back positive but he has never had the swab before. He also says that when he urinates it does not hurt too bad but his penis is really sore. What do you think it could be?

    • Hi Steph S,

      Is this question for Mr. Chen or for me?


      Dr Tan

      • Chris

        Dr tan please answer stephs question as I am in the same boat. Also could taking azo maximum stregth before having urine test done can make results show infection? I was in er and they said that my urine sample showed sign of infection so he wanted to take a swab but now I wish I didnt I didn’t have any discomfort before but now I do 3 days later. The test it self hurt but wasn’t bad and over quick but now my penis feels sore but it does not burn when I pee. My doc put me on ciprofloxcin 500mg x2 a day for a week. I don’t get how I got a uti in first place I have not had sex for 5 months now. Still waiting on swab results but the doctor didn’t even ask if I peed recently before doing the test so now I’m afraid I did it all for nothing and now stuck wit this pain. How long will this last? Could masterbation made it worse?

  32. Mr Chen

    I just had 2 swabs done and it was uncomfortable but not painful. It was more itchy with a slight burning sensation. I wouldnt mind doing these tests again if I have to.

    Hope I dont have anything nasty.

    • Hi Mr Chen,

      You are the first person on this forum to say the swabs are not that bad. Kudos to you. Either you have an extremely high pain threshold or the doctor who did it for you was very skillful. Or both.


      Dr Tan

  33. Rick Kapchuck

    Julie: I had a swab done about a year ago. Most painful thing that I ever endured. The doctor said the usual thing “this won’t hurt a bit!” It’s crazy how many times that line works on patients. Always, always expect something to hurt 10 times what a doctor alleges and be glad if it’s not a factor of 20 or 30. Pain is a doctors profession and there would be no patients standing in line if he told the truth. As for swabbing, next time have your boyfriend run like hell and find a clinic that just uses urine.

  34. Julie Call

    My boyfriend went in for the swab last week. He said the swab was excruciating pain and it still hurts so bad that he hasn’t been able to ejaculate without pain since. He still get’s red faced and choked up when I even mention the procedure. God! You would think science could come up with a better test.

    • Hi Julie Call,

      I really empathise with your boyfriend. Fortunately none of my patients ever had to suffer so badly from the procedure. I too hope that science will one day rid us of the need to do this form of testing. There is hope on the horizon. More and more tests are now able to be done using a urine sample only.


      Dr Tan
      Join us on http://www.askdrtan.com

  35. doc, i actually checked the rates, so i may be able to have a check up at the end of the month,given my financial situation, assuming that im infected with gonorrhea, are there any meausres ways to mitigate the progress of infection within 15 days?

  36. hi doc,
    i had sex with diffrent guys on three diffrent occassions recently – 20 feb, 26 feb, 12 march, on the first one i did an anal, twas protected though, the latter two did an oral on me, i started seeing some discharge on my unbder wear, its like greenish and i started feeling some funny sensations down there, ranging from itchy to needle prick at at the tip of my penis…. thend this morning, i had another dischrge when i was about to pee, not that much, and it is accompanied with the same feeling… just wanna ask how long is the maximum and minimum incabation period of Gonorrhoea? based on the symptoms that i discussed is it possiblr that i may have contracted it? how much is the urethral swab?

    • Hi Chris,

      Your symptoms definitely suggest that you have a urethritis. It does sound like Gonorrhea however we must also rule out other infections like Chlamydia and NSU. Gonorrhea symptoms can appear anytime from 3 to 30 days post exposure although the vast majority will develop symptoms by 2 weeks. However remember that 10% of people with Gonorrhea infection never develop any symptoms. If you really have Gonorrhea you also need to test for other STDs like HIV and syphilis. You need to see a doctor ASAP. Gonorrhea infections can get really bad if left untreated.


      Dr Tan
      Check out our new forum at http://www.askdrtan.com

      • thanks doc, i really want to have it check as its causing me some discomfort, im planning to visit your clinoc and have myself checked, i wanna know what it really is… so uretritis is one of the syptoms of gonorrhea right?

  37. Mr. Case

    Hello Dr. Tan:

    I was reading your information before I went in today and got tested for std’s. What a mistake! I can’t even believe how much pain I was made to endure with the swabbing test. Painless??? I was an idiot for believing you.

    • Mr. Case,

      Yes you are an idiot. You are an idiot because you cannot even read english. Please point out to me where the word ‘painless’ appears in the post. You are an idiot because you blame me for pain caused to you by some other doctor. You are an idiot indeed.

      Dr Tan

  38. questionguy

    Also i would like to add to that last statement, sex has become almost totally undesirable.. the frequent urinating and discomfort from my scrotum has just made doing anything impossible to enjoy.

    • Hi questionguy,

      Sounds like prostatitis.


      Dr Tan

      • questionguy

        Thank you so much. The help is very appreciated however, i did a slight amount of research just now on prostatitis, as i knew nothing of this, and it seems they can actually test for this via urine, so maybe i might get off lucky. The number of things this could be has been racing through my head for some time now as ive had more sexual partners than i can count and am only 22 years old. I guess the sensible thing here would be to get tested for everything, i just would really like to avoid the swab. :(. What i have seems to act worse after any type of sexual activity, also i had a random drug screening for my occupation, would they have noticed anything other than what they were testing for? say if i had something like prostatitis or a UTI , would it have turned up in a drug test? being optimistic.
        Thanks drtan.

        • Hi questionguy,

          Unfortunately not. Urine drug screens specifically test only for drug abuse. The lesson here is not to diagnose yourself. See a doctor and talk about your issues. Maybe you do not need a swab at all.


          Dr Tan

  39. questionguy

    Why would anybody get a swab to test for chlamydia and Gonorrhea if there is a urine test available with the same accuracy? do they not have the option given to them or did they just no know? im deathly afraid of getting the swab done as a family member had a swab done for chlamydia testing and instantly passed out and collapsed to the floor from the pain. However, i desperately want to get tested as it seems my urethra will be swollen and sting and sometimes have discharge for a week, but by the time i decide to make an appointment to get it checked out it feels better.. but keeps coming back in short time, also my scrotum is always very tight to the body as if i were freezing or just got out of a pool, this is very discomforting and it seems that in months it just has never hung freely as it should… questionable.. but the more i hear about testing the more terrified i become, please help.

    • Hi questionguy,

      We can use the urine to test for Gonorrhea and chlamydia but certain other organisms are better tested for using swabs. Sure you can also use the urine to test for these organisms if the pre test risk is low. Your pre test risk is not low. So at the end of the day you will just have to bite the bullet and do it. Unfortunately medicine is imperfect like that.


      Dr Tan

  40. Hi Dr. I would like to enquire for nsu ureaplasma, is there a urine test?
    Because i dont prefer to do swab. Thanks.

    • Hi Z,

      Yes you can do a urine test however swabs are more accurate.


      Dr Tan

  41. Hello Dr. Tan,

    How was your weekend? Interesting as expected?

    While I was searching more about this wonderful website, I have decided few tests that I would like to do for STDs, which are:

    1. HIV.
    2. Syphilis
    3. Herpes 1 and 2.
    4. Gonorrhea (by using Gonorrhea PCR Test – by urine).
    5. Chlamydia (by using Chlamydia PCR Test – by urine).

    I do not have any symptoms actually, but I would like to do it for a peace of mind.

    Then, I saw the article about throat gonorrhea. I’m not sure whether I should do this test. I usually do not perform cunnilingus. Never.

    But, there was once an incident (occured at least 5-6 years ago), I actually kissed (not french kiss) outside the vagina of a commercial sex worker with unknown health status.

    Well, of course I would like to test for throat gonorrhea too for the peace of my mind. However, this incident has happened so long ago, I’m not sure if the test able to pick up, assuming I was infected from that incident? From the incident (5-6 years ago) until today, of course I have had some sore throat problems, but usually the sore throat problems are cured with antibiotics.

    Assuming I did pick up throat gonorrhea from that incident, are there any health complications that I might have not known or missed, for so long? At least 6 years, could be more.

    And Dr. Tan, can you tell me the name for the test of throat gonorrhea as well, so that I can tell my doctor that I want to take this test as well.

    And finally, do even think I need to take this test. I have read in some forums (i.e. Medhelp) that throat gonorrhea will actually cleared up by itself.

    Please advice, Dr. Tan.

    Thank you very much and god bless you.

    • Hi SunnyLee,

      The test is called throat swab for Gonorrhea culture. As for your risk and whether or not you need the test, it is best that you discuss it with your doctor.


      Dr Tan

      • Hello Dr. Tan,

        Hope you will not get angry on so many of my questions. This should be the last question from myself.

        I went for Urine test for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia test PCR yesterday (13 Feb 2012).

        However, there’s one thing that quite concern me is I have taken antibiotics for my sore throat a week ago.

        From 26th to 30th January 2012, my doctor prescribed me with Amoxycillin antibiotics. However, my throat infection did not go away. Later, he prescribed me with Cefuroxime from 2nd to 6th February 2012. And, my sore throat went away.

        I took the Gonorrhea and Chlamydia PCR Test yesterday which is exactly a week I finished the antibiotics.

        Will the antibiotics taken cause the False Negative in the Urine PCR Test Result?

        I have read this in some forums, so it kind of bothering me. Just would like to confirm with you.

        Thanks, Dr. Tan for your time and consideration.

        • Hi SunnyLee,

          To answer your question: yes certain antibiotics can affect the test but not the ones you took. It’s best to take the test 2 weeks after completion of antibiotics.


          Dr Tan

          • Hello Dr. Tan,

            Wow! What a relief!
            Thanks for your reply. But, just to be on safe side. I will test again after 2 weeks completion of the antibiotics.

            Dr. Tan, I hope you don’t find this exaggerate. But, you are my idol. I hope someday I can go to your clinic and see the real you.

            Thanks again, have a great day. God bless you, Dr. Tan.

      • Hello Dr. Tan,

        Following my question earlier, if antibiotics can really cause false negative in Gonorrhea and Chlamydia PCR Tests, when would be the best time to take the test again, i.e. how many days/weeks after the completion of the antibiotics?

  42. Hello Dr. Tan,

    Thanks for your time to read and reply to this post.

    From my previous post to you, you have advised that I should go for tests for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia also. I think I will stick to your advice although I do not have any symptoms of both Gonorrhea and Chlamydia.

    However, as I read this page of Urethral Swab, I got a bit scared on the painful process. However, if I’m not mistaken, the tests for Gonorrhea and Clammydia can actually use urine samples right?

    What is the difference using urine sample and urethral swab? Is it OK to use urine samples? I also read that to use urine sample, need to avoid to pee for 2 hours, is this true as well?

    Thanks for your reply again, Dr. Tan.

    • Hi SunnyLee,

      You have actually answered all your own questions already. Yes chlamydia and Gonorrhea tests can be done with urine samples. The accuracy is the same. You need to hold your urine for preferably 4 hours prior to the test.


      Dr Tan

      • Hello Dr.Tan,

        Thanks for your reply.

        Have a great weekend. God bless you, Dr. Tan.

        • Hi SunnyLee,

          You are welcome. My weekend is looking interesting indeed.


          Dr Tan

      • Lovebaby

        Dr.Tan is it possible to combine the examination of gonorrhea and chlamydia using the same urine sampel? Or should separate for each examination?

        • Hi Lovebaby,

          Same sample is fine.


          Dr Tan

  43. A woman I have been cheating with has just found out she has HPV after her GYN visit. I didnt use a condom with her and I know I should have used better judgment but i didnt. What are the risk I have it? I also read that there is no test for men but a doctor on his website claims he test men for HPV with “Uretheral swab” I want to know if this is true. I have slept with my current girlfriend 2 times since I started this affair with this woman who just found out she has HPV. Im a screw up and I know it but any answers can ease the mind.

    • Hi Jay,

      As far as I know, there is no test for HPV in men except for men who practice receptive anal sex. In those cases we swab the anal canal for HPV DNA testing. I think the best thing you can do now is to encourage your current girlfriend to have regular PAP smears. Both of you should also discuss with your doctors the need for HPV vaccination.


      Dr Tan

  44. Is there anything you can do before hand to make it less pain full. You said something about it being dry, so would it be better to use the bathroom before hand to make sure it isn’t dry or something else?

    • Hi Thom,

      Nothing much we can do to make it less painful except to be extra slow and gentle when conducting the swab. You should not use the bathroom before hand as this really affects the accuracy of the tests.


      Dr Tan

      • Now, I know this might sound strange, but is it possible to produce some pre-ejaculate prior to the swab to lubricate the urethra? I find that every time I get a urethral swab done, my urethra is so dry that it does indeed hurt. In the past I have had swabs done that were just an uncomfortable sensation, so this change to me seems like the lubrication of the urethra can be done naturally. Your thoughts on my pre-ejaculate idea?

        • It is very true that urethral swabs hurt more when the urethra is dry. So having some pre-ejaculate will reduce the pain. It will also not affect the accuracy of the test. I think that is a good idea.

  45. Dr. Tan,

    I had a swab done a few hours ago. It was indeed uncomfortable but the pain subsided quickly. However, I experienced tremendous pain while trying to urinate shortly after. How long should I expect it to take before this subsides?

    • Hi J,

      This should subside in a few hours definitely within a day. Your urethra was probably dry and the swab abraded the urethra a little. This heals very quickly.


      Dr Tan

  46. I got tested a few years ago in england, the nurse swabbed me twice, it hurt but I stayed put like a man, I stood up, went for a wee straight after the swab, fainted and knocked myself out on the urinal, I said I will never get that done again, until the next time …..

    • Hi Matt,

      I empathize. Hopefully there will not be a next time.


      Dr Tan

  47. Hi David and nyc, I have undergone the Urethral Swab test today by Dr. Tan. At the time the test was being performed, I felt a bit of uncomfortness. The pain you mentioned above might be of 2 reasons. The first should be the way in which the test’s been performed by those Doc’s and the Second reason could also be related to the emotional part playing at the back of your mind as it hurts. This is my first time, I’ve undergone this test and hoping it as my last time too expecting no STI’s/STD’s in the result.

    • Hi GVSK,

      Thank you for the vote of confidence.


      Dr Tan

  48. OMG, you absolutely ARE a liar, like this other guy said. I just had a urethral swab done this morning and it was THE most painful thing I’ve ever done in my life. And I had to have 3 (!!!) done in a row….when the guy stuck the first one in I screamed like crazy and reflexively jumped up from the bed. When he told me he needed to do 2 more, I wanted to run away from the office…he had to persuade me for a looong time. For the other two, I basically bit into my arm and screamed like hell…
    This was done in Europe, and I’ve had a swab done several years ago in the US as well….also extremely painful, even though I needed only 1 (thank god!)…
    So to simply claim that the urethral swab procedure is “painless” is a flat-out lie.

    • Hi nyc,

      I sympathise with you. I personally have conducted literally thousands of urethral swabs for my patients. Not a single one cried out in pain. Not a single one jumped up from the bed. The next time you need a urethral swab (hopefully never of course), if you could, come down to my clinic and I will conduct the swab for you. But I appreciate the feedback and I get the message. The phrase ‘uncomfortable but painless’ is open to interpretation. I will update the post accordingly.


      Dr Tan

  49. David Craig

    Dr. Tan is a liar. The test is very painful for most men. Check out the report published in London by a doctor doing research called “How painful is a urethral swab?” The result on the pain scale was a 6.4 out of 10 with some patients reporting as high as an 8.5.

    • Hi David Craig,

      You can always disagree with my views however I really do not appreicate being called a liar. You are basing your statement on one single report that, if I am correct, had a sample of 121 men. So you decided that 121 men in London is representative of the rest of the world with a population of 7 billion. You are also assuming that the technique for carrying our urethral swabs that every doctor in the world uses is identical to this one practice in London. Interpreting medical evidence is a complex subject that doctors study a long time to do. Every study has it own level of evidence and this study is certainly a far cry from the Mutli-Centre Double Blind Placebo Controlled trials that are taken as gold standard evidence. In other words, we cannot draw any firm conclusion from this one study alone. If there are more such studies, we can do a meta-analysis of the data and perhaps draw a conclusion. These are facts you have to get straight before you go about calling me a liar.

      Dr Tan

      • I agree with the Doc. Normally the doc won’t lie if there is nothing to do with serious problem. Here we are talking about whether it’s painful or not. Does the Doc from Singapore need to lie about this? I seriously doubt that. Thus I intend to believe the doc is honest and trust. NOT a liar. For David, please don’t make such a haste conclusion and judgement. It hurts doc and innocent people. Thanks.

      • william r udin

        Dr. Tan,

        With all due respect, how do you propose to do a double-blinded placebo study of urethral swabbing? By definition, most people know when an object is being inserted into their urethra and most doctors know when they are doing this.

        With regard to pain, I agree with you. Urethral swabs are not the worst. Tell the patient that rates it as an 8/10 to pass a kidney stone and then re-rate the swab.

        Dr. Udin – Brooklyn, NY

        • drtan

          Dear Dr. Udin,

          Yes you are absolutely right. Not possible to do a double blind study at all. Thank you very much for your feedback and suggestion. I will look to institute that into my practice. I wish you all the best in your practice and I am very happy to hear from an esteemed colleague from halfway across the world.


          Dr Tan

    • Hi David Craig,

      I do not see a response from you. After having the unmitigated temerity of calling someone a liar, the gentlemanly thing to do is to admit that you were in the wrong and apologise. Or, if you are adamant on the point you made then please offer a counter argument to the one I proposed and we can have a lively debate on whether I am a liar or not.

      Dr Tan

    • NewLeaf


      I find it totally offensive when you ‘walk’ right into this forum and badge Dr.Tan with such words, I would, in fact go as far as condemning your low-down actions.

      As such, he is running this service FREE OF CHARGE for the public to benefit while still remaining behind our screens! You seem to me a frog under your shell who has done least research on the net.

      Lets get into the subject directly about “How painful is a urethral swab” can be!

      I speak from experience that it is not painful at all, instead all one would feel is a tingling feeling which would last for about 5 minutes. It would be such a shame if a man is not able to tolerate for the sake of his own health!

      You really should have done your homework before getting on this forum before demonstrating a trigger happy attitude here. Have you done a urethral swab before? I reckon you have not and were considering of doing one, hence your reason of reading up such reports.

  50. wellington baraza

    I had a gonorrhea that have become chronic, it has taken almost two years, I have tried all mean but in vain, It had become resistant to all drugs. I have even done culture and used the few drugs that were not resistant but none bares fruit.
    Please advise.

    • Hi wellington baraza,

      I empathise with you. Multi-drug resistant Gonorrhea is becoming a very serious problem worldwide. There is very little anyone can done aside from trying different anit-biotics at increasing doses. I’m afraid there is very little I can add to your clinical management. This should really remind doctors and patients alike of the importance of not abusing antibiotics.


      Dr Tan

      • hi how are you doing dr tan I resently went to a clinicfor a check up I confide in them I was under stress, but just wanted blood work done tocheck my self out check my hormons my thyroid, std drug test they said they could only offer a std test check my urine now I was willing to take a blood test which he said was for hiv and if I wanted to check for any other std’s I would have to do a swab test for chylmidia and syhipilis, so I agreed did actually knew what kind of swab test he meant he meant a penil swab and I agred and I don’t know why I agreed,..it was traumatic and added to my already stress, it hurt and I did research that he could’ve just taking a blood to get all std results if he didn’t lie to me I wouldn’t have taking the swab I always had a condition were I urinate constantly wih a weak flow and going constantly which I told them about but a urine and blood was good enough to find any STI im very upset how he told me only a swab could find syphilis and other stds besides hiv I feel he took advantage of me to practice on like a test dummy he was a intern doctor I believe he didn’t even wipe I private part before doing procedure or use gloves it just keeps playing over in my ind and I feel alil discomfort on my penis head I don’t know if its because of procedure or because I masterbated the next day like I do daily but I feel like after procedure I loss sex drive should I worry what do you think

        • meant to say didn’t know what kind swab he was referring to I thought it was a oral swab but it wa a penil swab he did

          • sorry if my statement is not clear,..what im saying is,.. he didn’t put any kind of germicide on my private before procedure I found out all of what he should’ve done after the fact after doing research,.. or use gloves and he lied to me about how only a swab could be use to find STD’S like syhphils and chlymidia, and blood test only shows hiv I feel I should file a report for mild practice and im traumatized by the procedunre I felt a slight discomfort uder my penis head right after procedure while I was urinating,..and after the same night and two days later I masturbated which I do daily,.. and I don’t have the discomfort I had under the head of my penis but I have a sensitive feeling or ache at the top of my penis head on the rightside don’t know if it because of masturbating after procedure or if its because of procedure Im alittle pissed off know because of the lie I wanted have done it if I knew I could just take blood and get all results its fucked up what he did I think took advantage what do you think doc

          • sorry if my statement is not clear,..what im saying is,.. he didn’t put any kind of germicide on my private before procedure I found out all of what he should’ve done after the fact after doing research,.. or use gloves and he lied to me about how only a swab could be use to find STD’S like syhphils and chlymidia, and blood test only shows hiv I feel I should file a report for mild practice and im traumatized by the procedunre I felt a slight discomfort uder my penis head right after procedure while I was urinating,..and after the same night and two days later I masturbated which I do daily,.. and I don’t have the discomfort I had under the head of my penis but I have a sensitive feeling or ache at the top of my penis head on the rightside don’t know if it because of masturbating after procedure or if its because of procedure Im alittle pissed off know because of the lie I wanted have done it if I knew I could just take blood and get all results its fucked up what he did I think took advantage what do you think doc appreciate it thanks

      • hi dr tan I had a penil swab done to me about 3 days ago,at a clinic with med students he operated the procedure with no gloves and didn’t wash my area with any disinfectant and it was uncomfortable well shit it hurt a little,..im upset because he told me that was the only way to check for syphilis and gorareha, and blood test can’t do that, now my penis feels alittle funny in the uretha like as if somethings in it its kind of itchy and I don’t know if that’s because I did masturbate like a few times after what do you think I might be traumatized from it,

        • Geez. I am so sorry to hear what happened to you. Must say that was rather unprofessional. What likely happened was the swab abraded the urethra. Like all wounds, they heal well with time. However, like all wounds, it can get infected. Right now all you can do is drink lots of cranberry juice and wait. Most likely you’ll be OK. If not you will need to see another doctor. And BTW, Syphilis can only be detected on a blood test and NOT a urethral swab. You might want to consult a physician more experienced in this area.

          • thank you doctor tan I appreciate you responding back to me,… and thanks alot for the advice

      • Hey , Dr. Tan yesterday (7/16/2014) I recived my results back from my very first PAP smear and my test on Chlamydia came back positive. I let my partner know. And I want to know is a urethral swab the only way to get a accurate Chlamydia exam ? Or could my partner request to have a urine sample done and still get an accurate reading?!

        • Hi Mona,

          Your partner can opt to do a urine PCR for chlamydia , which is highly sensitive and avoids the often painful urethral swab. I’d advise him to get tested for gonorrhea as well, as these infections often coexist. Gonorrhea can also be similarly done by a urine specimen.

          • Thank you for getting back with me , could you further explain the urine PCR ? Or was that just a more formal way of saying urine test? And with Gonorrhea testing will the urine or PCR urine test be allowed vs U.S. Test?! (Urethral Swab)