What Is a Vaginitis Test?
called vulvovaginitis, is not one specific infection. The term encompasses a variety
of disorders that cause infection or inflammation of the vagina and/or vulva.
The causes of vaginitis can include bacteria, yeast infections, or viruses. It
can also be passed between sexual partners. Vaginal dryness due to lack of
estrogen can be a contributing cause.
A vaginitis test,
or “wet mount,” helps your doctor diagnose vaginal infections that could be
What Are Symptoms of Vaginitis?
vaginitis can differ among women, depending on the cause of the infection. Some
women have no symptoms, and vaginitis is detected during a regular gynecologic
exam. Common symptoms, when present, include:
- vaginal discharge that may have an
- itching or swelling on the outside
of the vagina
- burning during urination
- pain or discomfort during
The Vaginitis Test (Wet Mount) Procedure
A vaginitis test is
used to help diagnose vaginal infections that don’t affect the urinary tract.
It’s also called a “wet prep.” Your doctor will have you lie down on an exam
table with your feet in stirrups, like at a regular gynecologic exam. They’ll
insert a speculum into the vagina to help see the area. A sterile, moist cotton
swab is inserted into the vagina to obtain a sample of vaginal discharge. While
you may feel pressure or discomfort, the test shouldn’t hurt.
The doctor will
transfer the sample onto a slide. The slide is examined under a microscope to
check for infection.
How Do I Prepare for a Wet Mount?
Your doctor will
ask you to abstain from douching 24 hours before your appointment. Some doctors
ask that you don’t have intercourse 24 hours prior to the exam.
Interpreting the Test Results
from a wet mount indicate there’s an infection. When looking at the sample under
the microscope, the doctor is generally looking for signs of a yeast infection
or the presence of certain bacteria or microorganisms, such as the
bacterium Gardnerella (the
cause of bacterial vaginosis), or the Trichomonas parasite (which causes trichomoniasis).
It’s possible for
more than one type of vaginitis to be present at the same time. Common types of
- trichomoniasis vaginitis, a
sexually transmitted infection
- candidal (yeast) vulvovaginitis
- bacterial vaginosis (BV)
- chlamydia vaginitis
- viral vaginitis
- atrophic vaginitis
Following up After the Test
Your doctor will
tailor treatment to your specific type of infection. Treatment for a yeast
infection may include prescription vaginal creams, vagina suppositories, or antifungal
If you have
noninfectious vaginitis, that means it wasn't caused by an infection. This kind
of vaginitis may be caused by reactions to vaginal sprays or spermicide.
Perfumed soaps, lotions, and fabric softeners can also cause irritation that
results in noninfectious vaginitis. Your doctor will ask you to avoid any of
these products that may be causing irritation.
you may need to avoid intercourse. If you’re pregnant or think you may be
pregnant, let your doctor know before they prescribe anything. After treatment,
you might need to be tested again to make sure the infection has cleared. Ask
your doctor whether further testing is necessary.
How Can I Prevent Vaginitis?
There are things
you can do to help lower your chances of getting vaginitis. Good personal
hygiene is important, and avoiding wearing tight jeans or spandex can help
lower your risk of developing a yeast infection.
Don’t douche or use
vaginal sprays or perfumed soaps in the vaginal area. This can cause
Practice safer sex
to lower the risk of a sexually transmitted infection. You should also get
screened for sexually transmitted infections.
If you are perimenopausal
or menopausal, you may experience symptoms related to lack of estrogen. This
can also happen if your ovaries have been removed. A lack of estrogen can lead
to vaginal dryness and irritation. Talk with your doctor about whether hormone
therapy is appropriate. There may also be creams or lubricants you can use.
Talk with your
doctor about any concerns you have. Regular gynecologic exams are important in
maintaining vaginal health.