Tests for Bacterial Vaginosis
How It Is Done
You will take off your clothes below the
waist. You will have a gown to drape around your waist. You will then lie on
your back on an examination table with your feet raised and supported by
stirrups. This is similar to having a pelvic examination or Pap test.
Your doctor will put an instrument with curved blades (speculum) into
your vagina. The speculum gently spreads apart the vaginal walls, allowing your
doctor to see the inside of the vagina and the
cervix. See a picture of the
vaginal speculum examination .
Samples of fluid inside the vagina
are then collected with a swab or wooden stick.
How It Feels
You may feel some discomfort when the
speculum is put in, especially if your vagina is irritated and tender.
There is little or no risk in having a bacterial
bacterial vaginosis take samples of fluid and cells
from the vagina to see if this vaginal infection is present.
high vaginal pH, clue cells, and a fishy odor usually are enough signs that
bacterial vaginosis is present.
Tests for bacterial vaginosis
vaginal discharge is present on vaginal
A wet mount does not show
large numbers of bacteria, such as Gardnerella, that
cause bacterial vaginosis.
No clue cells are
No fishy odor is present when
a potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution is added to a sample of vaginal
pH is in the normal range of 3.8 to 4.5.
A bacterial vaginosis
infection is present.
- A thin, grayish white vaginal discharge
is present on vaginal exam. The discharge often looks shiny and has small
- A fishy odor is made when a KOH solution is added to a
sample of vaginal discharge.
- Large numbers of the types of bacteria
that cause bacterial vaginosis (such as Gardnerella),
clue cells, or both are present on wet mount.
- Vaginal pH is greater
What Affects the Test
Reasons you may not be able to
have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:
- If you are having your menstrual
- If you use a vaginal medicine, such as a nonprescription
vaginal yeast medicine, 2 to 3 days before this test.
- Having sex or
douching 24 hours before this test.
What To Think About
- Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy increases
a woman's risk of early (preterm) delivery. Because of this risk, it is
important to treat bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy with
- Experts disagree about
calling bacterial vaginosis a
sexually transmitted infection (STI). A history of STIs
or having multiple sex partners increases the chance of developing bacterial
vaginosis. The actual number of bacterial vaginosis infections spread through
sexual contact is not fully known.