Blood, swabs & bodily fluids

Blood — Samples can be collected from blood vessels (capillaries, veins, and sometimes arteries) by trained phlebotomists (usually pathology collectors or nurses). A fine needle is used and blood is withdrawn into a special collection tube. The procedure takes just a few minutes and can sting just a bit, typically when the needle is inserted or withdrawn. See Test tips & How it's done on blood collection .
Swabs – Many samples are collected by running a swab over an affected area. Procedures of this type can be collected by the patient or by a professional.  The sample can be sent to a laboratory for analysis, although a few tests can provide immediate results in the doctor’s rooms. Throat, nasal, vaginal, and superficial wound cultures are obtained in this way. The procedures, while they occasionally can be uncomfortable, are generally quick, relatively painless and have no after-effects.
Samples from open wounds and sores — If a wound or sore is located in the outer layer of skin, the specimen is typically collected on a swab by brushing it over the area and gathering a sample of fluid or pus. Touching the open wound area may be temporarily painful since the wound is likely to be tender and sore. If a wound or infection is deep, however, a needle and syringe may be used to aspirate a sample of fluid or pus from the site.
Secretions and fluids from the nose or throat — Samples are collected by running a swab over the area. People typically respond to swabbing of their throat with a momentary gag reflex. If the throat is sore, the sample collection, brief as it is, can be uncomfortable. Similarly, a nasal swab may be a bit uncomfortable as the swab is inserted and reaches areas inside the nose that are typically never touched. It is a good idea to ask the practitioner or health professional if there are ways to minimise any soreness that may result. It can be helpful to perform relaxation techniques before, during, or after the procedure.
Secretions and tissues from the female reproductive system — Samples of vaginal secretions are obtained by running a cotton swab over the walls of the vagina. Also, cervical cells for a Pap smear are obtained using a special spatula or a tiny brush. Endometrial tissue samples are obtained by inserting a thin, flexible, hollow tube into the uterus, during which a slight pinch or brief cramping might be felt. It’s common for people to feel embarrassed and vulnerable because of how these samples are collected. A sensitive approach by the health care professional contributes greatly to a person’s emotional comfort. If you are physically uncomfortable, try asking for what you need (such as a smaller speculum). Also, if you would be more at ease if a woman performs these procedures ask your clinic for a female practitioner.