The cervical and swab tests are two procedures that are often done by doctors and nurses to assist with checking the uterine health of a patient and to check if she may be pregnant. If they are careful and taught how to do the tests, women can also perform them at home themselves.

The swab test

This test helps you to determine if you are about to menstruate. It’s quite simple, all you need is a cotton swab or bud and clean hands. Place the swab into the vaginal canal and rub it against the side of the walls of the canal. Remove the swab and check the color and consistency of the secretion on it.

If menstruation is about to come, the swab will be red or brown with a wet consistency. If you are not about to start your menstrual bleed, the swab will remain clean and will often be quite dry still.

The cervical test

Gynecologists often perform this procedure in order to help determine if a woman is pregnant. The test must be done with the utmost care and doctors often don’t recommend that you try it at home yourself. However, if you are shown the correct way to do it, you can carry out the test on your own.

With clean hands – bacteria will flourish in the vagina and uterus – and short nails to ensure you don’t scratch the sensitive lining, you or your doctor insert a finger into the vagina and gently press on the cervix. The reason for this is to feel for the height and hardness of the cervix.

The behavior of your cervix and uterus changes during your cycle

  • When the cervix is rigid and closed: When the opening to your uterus becomes firm and the hole is small, it means that your progesterone levels are high. It’s unlikely that you are pregnant in this situation.
  • When the cervix is soft and open: When the opening to your uterus is wider and softer, it means that either you are ovulating or you have reached the end of your cycle and menstrual bleeding will start soon. In the former instance, this is a good time to try for a baby as you are in your fertile period. In this state, the cervix is open to receive sperm or to release blood at the end of your cycle.
  • When the cervix is high in the vagina: When the cervix rises up, it means that you are pregnant. This isn’t a strong indicator of pregnancy though because it doesn’t always happen at the same stage of pregnancy for all women.
  • When the cervix is lower: After ovulation the cervix usually lowers as part of the process of getting the womb ready for sexual intercourse that will result in fertilization.

Basically if the cervix is high up in the birth canal and is harder, there is a good chance that you are pregnant. If it is softer and lower down in the birth canal, then it is likely that you are not pregnant. This isn’t an exact science, but the cervical test is a way to help you determine if you may be pregnant and if you should seek further testing.

Just remember that you are examining a very delicate part of your body and it should be done with great care. Over time you will learn the characteristics of your cervix and what it means for your cycle. You will also be able to detect any changes in your cycle.

IMPORTANT: The cervical test is effective; however, you should not try it if you suspect you are already pregnant. If you do not know the correct procedure, you could cause a miscarriage.

Recurring questions from readers

We often get the same questions from our readers about these tests. We’ve compiled the most common questions and the answers you may be seeking:

Does the swab test really work and how do I interpret the results?

Yes, the swab test really does work. It can accurately tell you if your menstruation period is about to start or not. If the swab comes out clean, you are not close to the end of your cycle. If it comes out with red or brown mucus, you are about to start bleeding.

What secretions are normal to see in the swab test?

Before ovulation you will likely see a white mucus that is quite thick. This secretion is called progesterone mucus. As you enter the fertile period, the discharge will change to a runnier or watery consistency. After the fertile period, the thicker, white mucus will return and stay until your menstruation begins. If you are pregnant, this mucus will remain until the end of the gestation period.

How does the cervical test show if I’m pregnant?

This test is the simplest way to see what position and state the cervix is in. However, it has to be done with great care as you are working in a very sensitive area. Doctors study for years before they perform the procedure on patients. They can teach a woman how to perform the test on themselves so that they can take the test at home, if they are trying to fall pregnant.

There is no definitive rule about the position of the cervix during a pregnancy, but it can give a good indication of your state. If the cervix is high up in the birth canal and rigid, it means that you are very likely with child and that the cervix will stay this way throughout the pregnancy.

Can I tell if I’m pregnant through the tightening of my stomach?

Some women claim that they feel a “little ball” in the stomach, but this is not a definitive way to confirm that you are pregnant. The best way to do this is with a test from your local pharmacy or blood tests done by a doctor in a lab.

When should I do the swab test?

The swab test should be performed near the time or on the first day of your menstruation. However, if you think that you may be pregnant, do not perform this test. The swab in the vagina can cause a miscarriage to occur.

If my cervix is soft and open, what does it mean?

A soft, open cervix can mean one of two things: either you are about to menstruate or you have ovulated and are in your fertile period. In the fertile period, the cervix is wide in order to receive sperm and just before your menstruation, it is wide to release the blood.

What should I look for in the swab test?

The results of the swab test are all about the color and consistency of the secretion on the swab. A red or brown color with a thicker consistency means that you are about to menstruate.

IMPORTANT: The swab test is a great way to determine if your menstrual period is about to start but it should not be attempted if you believe that you are already pregnant.