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Vaginitis test - wet mount

Definition

The vaginitis wet mount test is a test to detect an infection of the vagina.

Alternative Names

Wet prep

How the Test is Performed

  • You lie on your back on the exam table. Your feet are supported by footrests.
  • The health care provider gently inserts an instrument (speculum) into the vagina to hold it open so the provider can see inside.
  • A sterile, moist cotton swab is gently inserted into the vagina to take a sample of discharge.
  • The swab and speculum are removed.

The discharge is sent to a lab. There, it is placed onto a slide. It is then viewed under a microscope and checked for signs of infection.

How to Prepare for the Test

  • In the two days before the test, do not use creams or other medicines in the vagina.
  • Do not douche. (You should never douche. Douching can cause infection of the vagina or uterus.)

How the Test will Feel

There may be slight discomfort when the speculum is inserted into the vagina.

Why the Test is Performed

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

Normal Results

A normal test result means there are no signs of an infection.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results mean there is an infection. The most common infections are due to one or a combination of the following:

  • Bacterial vaginosis -- bacteria that normally live in the vagina overgrow, causing a heavy, white, fishy-smelling discharge and possibly a rash, painful intercourse, or odor after intercourse
  • Trichomoniasis -- a sexually transmitted disease
  • Vaginal yeast infection

Risks

There are no risks with this test.

Considerations

For information on treatment and prevention, please see the article on vaginitis.

References

Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Infections of the lower and upper genital tracts: vulva, vagina, cervix, toxic shock syndrome, endometritis, and salpingitis. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL. eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 23.

Croft AC, Woods GL. Specimen collection and handling for diagnosis of infectious diseases. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 63.


Review Date: 8/29/2013
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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