Some samples such as urine, feces, and sputum can be collected as the body naturally eliminates them, while semen can be collected by the patient. Collection of some samples from young children or patients with physical limitations may require assistance. Usually, collecting these samples is painless, but obtaining them can occasionally be awkward and unpleasant because they involve elimination of bodily wastes and involve body parts and functions people prefer to keep private.
Sometimes these types of samples can be collected at home and brought to a medical office or facility, but they also may be collected at a medical facility such as a doctor's office, clinic, laboratory patient service center, or hospital. These facilities are usually designed to minimize sample handling by the patient and embarrassment. You may, for example, find a "pass-through" window in the bathroom so you don't have to walk the hall with a see-through container you have just filled. You may find printed instructions on how to obtain urine or stool samples posted in the bathroom so you don't have to listen to a nurse tell you explicitly how to obtain a "clean catch" of urine or a fecal sample. If you are sensitive to these issues and want to choose a healthcare provider or testing center that provides such options, you can ask about their procedures, their layout, and steps taken by the staff to ensure patient privacy and comfort.
Below are examples of types of samples typically collected by the patient. It is very important that all instructions for sample collection are carefully followed. Make sure you understand the instructions before collecting your specimen.