Several of the body's organs including the bowel and the vagina are not sterile. A swab test from the upper vagina (HVS high vaginal swab) is usually taken if you have problems with vaginal discharge or if it is thought that you may have pelvic infection. If a swab sample is sent for culture many bacteria or other micro-organisms are invariably identified. It is a matter of clinical judgement whether any of these are causing a problem for you in which case we would call them pathogens (generating pathology disease). If they are innocent we call them commensals. It should be recognised that a swab from the upper vagina may not reflect the situation in the uterus or Fallopian tubes.

Women's Health

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