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Vaginal Wet Mount

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Having your period.
  • Using a vaginal medicine, such as a nonprescription vaginal yeast medicine, 2 to 3 days before this test.
  • Having sex within 24 hours before the test, which can affect the vaginal pH.

What To Think About

  • Some causes of vaginitis are not found by a vaginal wet mount, including atrophic vaginitis and some STIs, such as herpes simplex. Atrophic vaginitis can be found on a vaginal smear when dye is added to the vaginal discharge on the slide. The slide is looked at under a microscope for cell changes that show atrophic vaginitis.
  • Sometimes a sample of the vaginal discharge is put in a special cup to see if bacteria, yeast, or trichomonads will grow. This is called a vaginal culture.
  • The sex partners of women with trichomoniasis are generally treated for the infection so they do not reinfect their partners after treatment. Some doctors recommend treating the sex partners of women with bacterial vaginosis, but most do not. Partners of women who have vaginal yeast infections are not generally treated for yeast infections. To learn more, see the topic Tests for Bacterial Vaginosis.
  • Infections such as chlamydia, genital warts, syphilis, herpes simplex, and gonorrhea can also affect the vagina.
  • A vaginal yeast infection can occur after a woman is treated with antibiotics or in a woman whose diabetes is poorly controlled. Recurring yeast infections may be seen when a woman's immune system is weakened. The immune system can be weakened by old age, infections such as AIDS, or treatment for cancer.


  1. Epstein A, Subir R (2010). Vulvovaginitis. In Management of Common Problems in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5th ed., pp. 225–230. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

Other Works Consulted

  • Eckert LO, Lentz GM (2007). Infections of the lower genital tract. In VL Katz et al., eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 5th ed., pp. 569–606. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier.

  • Epstein A, Subir R (2010). Vulvovaginitis. In Management of Common Problems in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 5th ed., pp. 225–230. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDeborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last RevisedAugust 1, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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