Where can I get an ECM test?
The ECM test (Enriched Culture Medium test) is the international ‘gold standard’ for detecting group B Strep carriage, recognised in the UK Standard for Microbiology Investigations B58, published by Public Health England. It is highly sensitive and has been used as standard for decades in many developed countries.
The ECM test is increasingly becoming available within the NHS (so do ask your trust if they offer the ECM test). The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists recommended in the 2017 update to their guideline on group B Strep that certain women should be offered testing specifically for GBS, using the ECM test. There are still many maternity units that use a much less sensitive test that will miss up to half of carriers, so do explore with your health professional what is available from your Trust.
GBSS does not sell ECM tests, but signposts to reputable organisations that do. We receive no commission or referral fees for tests sold. A number of the organisation(s) from which you can purchase the GBS test support the charity’s vital work financially (identified by a * next to their name). We may feature the organisation(s) with which we have partnerships more prominently than others.
All test providers listed on this page supply the internationally-recognised ‘gold standard’ ECM test for GBS as recommended by Public Health England. It is solely your decision which, if any, company you contact and any contact you have with them is completely confidential between you and them.
Home Testing Services
The cost of a home ECM testing pack, including processing the swabs and sending you the results, is from £35. You can watch a YouTube video about self-testing here.
If you purchase a home ECM testing pack, follow the instructions and keep the insert for future reference.
A number of other organisations offer the ECM test following Public Health England’s guidelines and those we know of include:
GBS home testing packs ordered from private organisations are usually sent out the same day.
You can take the samples yourself – most women don’t find this difficult and research shows that, provided you follow the simple instructions included, the results are as reliable as when a health professional takes the samples. You can ask your health professional, who may charge a fee for doing this.
The samples deteriorate over time, so, if you can, take the swabs and post them to the laboratory on Monday to Thursday. Keep the information leaflet that came with the pack for future reference. The lab will send out the results within 3 working days of receiving your samples.
When filling in the form, give your health professional’s contact details so they can also be sent a copy of the results – the return forms allow space for this. You can also opt to receive your result by SMS text message, as well as by post.
If you are or have recently been taking antibiotics, please be aware this may affect your GBS test result. Please discuss this with your health professional.
Testing at Private Clinics
You can go to a small number of private clinics to be tested for group B Strep carriage – they will take the swabs for you (or you can take them yourself if you prefer) and will send you the results by post, email or text. Some may also call you with the result. The charges will be higher for this personal service than the cost of home-testing packs.
The private clinics that have confirmed they offer the ECM test are:
- The Doctors Laboratory* (London) – 020 7307 7383 / [email protected]
- Innermost Healthcare (Cardiff) – 0345 230 3386 / [email protected]
- 3fivetwo (Belfast) – 0845 60 06 35 / [email protected]
- Brandwood Clinic (Solihull) – 0121 296 9280 / [email protected]
- Lanes Practice (Stoke Poges) – 01753 662244 / [email protected]
- Well Woman & Baby Room (Shoreham-by-Sea) – 07913 208149 / [email protected]
- Preview Baby (Hitchin) – 01462 338100 / [email protected]
Group B Strep Support endorses the availability of sensitive prenatal GBS testing. We provide the name and contact information for private ECM test providers but do not have the resources to check their performance in terms of speed or accuracy. Please provide us with feedback on the services provided by email to [email protected].