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Vaginitis test - wet mount


The vaginitis wet mount test is a test to detect an infection of the vagina that does not involve the urinary tract.

See also: Vaginitis

Alternative Names

Wet prep

How the Test is Performed

You will be asked to lie on your back with your feet in the stirrups. The health care provider will perform a pelvic examination and then insert an instrument called a speculum into the vagina. The speculum is slightly opened. This holds the vagina open and allows the health care provider to see inside.

The health care provider inserts a sterile, moist cotton swab into the vagina to take a sample of discharge. The swab and speculum are removed. The discharge is placed onto a slide and placed under a microscope so that it can be checked for signs of infection.

How to Prepare for the Test

Do not douche for 24 hours before the test.

How the Test Will Feel

There may be slight discomfort with the pelvic examination and when the speculum is inserted.

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


There are no risks associated with this test.


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


Eckert LO, Lentz GM. Infections of the lower genital tract: vulva, vagina, cervix, toxic shock syndrome, HIV infections. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap. 22.

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: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 63.

Review Date: 10/22/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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