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Vaginitis test - wet mount

Alternative names

Wet prep


This is a test for vaginitis (an infection of the vagina that does not include the urinary tract). The symptoms may include itching , pain, vaginal odor, and a vaginal discharge .

How the test is performed

You will be asked to lie on your back with your feet in the stirrups. A pelvic examination will be done, and a speculum (an instrument used to dilate the body passage in order to examine the interior) will be inserted into your vagina and opened slightly. A sterile, moist cotton swab is inserted, and a sample of the discharge is taken. The swab is removed and then the speculum. Slides are prepared, one with a salt solution and one with a potassium hydroxide solution, then viewed under a microscope.

How to prepare for the test

Do not douche for 24-hours before the test.

Infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child's age, interests, previous experiences, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child's age:
  • Infant test or procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)
  • Toddler test or procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)
  • Preschooler test or procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)
  • Schoolage test or procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)
  • Adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)

How the test will feel

There may be a slight discomfort with the pelvic examination.

Why the test is performed

The test looks for the cause of the vaginal irritation and discharge.

Normal Values

A normal value occurs when there is no indication of an infection.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results indicate infection, and the most common infections are caused by one or a combination of three sources.

A vaginal yeast infection (caused by Candida albicans) is a common cause -- resulting in a white, cheesy discharge; severe itching ; painful intercourse ; and a rash or vaginal inflammation.

Trichomoniasis , an infection caused by a protozoan parasite, produces a yellowish, frothy, foul-smelling discharge. Sores can develop on the cervix . There may be pain on urination or intercourse.

The other common cause is a bacteria (gardnerella vaginalis or hemophilus vaginalis), producing bacterial vaginosis. The symptoms are a heavy, white, fishy-smelling discharge. There may be a rash or painful intercourse, or odor after intercourse.

Different treatments are necessary for each type of infection.

Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:

  • Atrophic vaginitis (associated with lack of estrogen)

What the risks are

There are no risks.

Special considerations

If the infection is caused by trichomoniasis or a bacterium, the sexual partner should be treated also. This prevents the partners from being re-infected after the treatment.

It is possible to have an inflammation of the vagina from chemical irritation (such as from bubble bath or vaginal spray), mechanical abrasion (a scraping away at the surface), or a lack of estrogen.

Update Date: 2/5/2002

Peter Chen, M.D., Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT