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Vaginal Wet Mount

Test Overview

A vaginal wet mount (sometimes called a vaginal smear) is a test to find the cause of vaginitis, or inflammation of the vagina and the vulva.

Vaginitis is often caused by an infection. The most common infections that can cause vaginitis include bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and trichomoniasis.

For the wet mount, a sample of vaginal discharge is placed on a slide. The sample is then tested and looked at under a microscope to check for bacteria, yeast, trichomoniasis, and white blood cells.

Why It Is Done

A vaginal wet mount is done to find the cause of vaginal itching, burning, rash, odor, or discharge.

How To Prepare

You don't need to do anything to prepare for this test.

How It Is Done

You will take off your clothes below the waist and drape a gown around your waist. You will then lie on your back on an examination table with your feet and legs supported by footrests.

Your doctor will place a tool called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum helps to open the vagina a little bit, which allows your doctor to see the inside of the vagina and the cervix.

Samples of fluid inside the vagina are taken with a swab. The sample is put on a slide for testing.

How It Feels

You may feel some discomfort when the speculum is inserted, especially if your vagina is irritated and tender. There may be a small amount of bleeding after this test.

Risks

There are no problems from collecting a sample of vaginal secretions.

Results

Your doctor may talk to you about the results after the test. If the sample needs to be looked at by a lab, the results may be ready in 1 to 2 days.

Vaginal discharge

Normal:

No abnormal vaginal discharge is present.

Abnormal:

A white, lumpy discharge that looks like cottage cheese may mean a vaginal yeast infection is present. A yellow-green, foamy discharge that has a bad odor may mean trichomoniasis is present. A thin, gray-white vaginal discharge with a strong fishy odor may mean bacterial vaginosis is present.

Wet mount

Normal:

No yeast, bacteria, trichomoniasis, or clue cells are found on the slide. White blood cells are not present or very low in number.

Abnormal:

High numbers of white blood cells often mean a vaginal infection. Yeast cells found on the wet mount may mean a vaginal yeast infection is present. Trichomonads on the wet mount mean trichomoniasis is present. Clue cells may mean bacterial vaginosis is present.

Vaginal pH

Normal:

Vaginal pH is about 3.8–4.5.

Abnormal:

Vaginal pH is higher than 4.5. A higher pH may be caused by bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis.

Credits

Current as of: November 22, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Deborah A. Penava BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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