The Wet Mount Test Procedure To Identify The Cause of Vaginitis

    The Wet Mount Test Procedure To Identify The Cause of Vaginitis

    The wet mount test procedure is a screening test to identify the cause of vaginitis—the inflammation of the vagina and the skin surrounding it (vulva). What happens during the screening, and do you need special preparation for it? Find out here.

    A brief explanation for vaginitis

    As mentioned earlier, the wet mount test procedure (sometimes called a vaginal smear) screens for vaginitis. But, what exactly is vaginitis, and how do women get it?

    Vaginitis, also called vulvovaginitis, is the general term for the inflammation of the vagina and vulva. Reports say that most women get from an infection, but a reaction to feminine products can also trigger the condition as they disrupt normal vaginal pH.

    When you have vaginitis, you might notice symptoms such as vaginal itching and pain, burning sensation, and abnormal discharge.

    However, the symptoms vary depending on the type of vaginitis. Some of the common types of vaginitis are:

    • Vaginal yeast infection due to Candida albicans, a type of fungi
    • Trichomoniasis, which results from parasite infection; it’s also a type of sexually transmitted disease.
    • Bacterial vaginosis, which happens due to an imbalance in pH leading to vaginal bacterial overgrowth.
    • Other STDs like genital warts, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, etc.

    wet mount test procedure

    The importance of wet mount test procedures

    A vaginal smear is crucial because it checks for the presence of infection. In this screening, the doctor takes a sample of the vaginal discharge, places it on a glass slide, and mixes it with a salt solution.

    A laboratory technician will then observe it under the microscope to see if yeast, parasite, or clue cells are present. Depending on what the technician sees, the doctor will identify the cause of your vaginitis.

    Once a diagnosis has been made, your physician will develop an appropriate treatment plan for you to clear your symptoms.

    What to expect during a vaginal smear

    Now that we understand the importance of the wet mount test procedure to identify the cause of vaginitis, let’s talk about the screening itself.

    Before the test

    • Schedule the exam on the day when you don’t have your monthly period. The doctor will not collect the specimen during your menstruation because it can alter the results.
    • Do not apply or insert anything into the vagina 48 hours prior to the exam. This includes vaginal medicines and tampons.
    • If you’re pregnant, inform your doctor beforehand.

    During the test

    • The doctor will ask you to remove your clothes from the waist down. They will give you a gown to drape over your waist.
    • You’ll be asked to lie down on the examination table with your legs supported by stirrups on both corners of the bed.
    • To better inspect your vagina (and cervix), the doctor will spread your vaginal walls using a lubricated plastic or metal speculum.
    • You may feel a little pressure or discomfort during the speculum insertion, especially if your vagina is irritated or swollen. Try to relax to ease the feeling.
    • With a spatula or swab, the physician will collect the discharge from your vagina.
    • The doctor will then remove the speculum and give you time to dress up.

    wet mount test procedure

    After the test

    After the wet mount test procedure, the doctor will instruct you when the results will be available. This is also your chance to ask any questions you might have about your symptoms and sexual health.

    Normal test result means the technician didn’t find any parasite, yeast, or clue (unusual) cells in the vaginal discharge. There may be few white blood cells, but this number is usually insignificant.

    An abnormal test result means the technician found something in your discharge. If an infection is present, there might be a high number of white blood cells. Likewise, below are some of the interpretations of an abnormal test result:

    • Yeast cells may point to vaginal yeast infection
    • Trichomonads indicate trichomoniasis
    • Clue or unusual cells mean you have bacterial vaginosis. These cells are those that appear fuzzy under the microscope when they are coated with bacteria.
    • The presence of many Gardnerella vaginalis also points to BV.

    Key Takeaways

    The wet mount test procedure is a simple screening test to determine the cause of your vaginitis. With it, your doctor can give you the appropriate treatment to clear your symptoms at the soonest possible time.

    Learn more about Screening and Tests for Women here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD

    General Practitioner


    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Jan 12, 2022

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