Vaginitis Diagnosis - How to Diagnose Vaginitis?

Vaginitis diagnosis

In order to obtain the correct diagnosis, it is very helpful to get a detailed history.  Some chemicals that are in soaps and bath oils can irritate the vagina and vulvar regions. If a woman has a recent history of using antibiotics (which can impact the normal antifungal bacteria found in the vagina), a yeast infection maybe more likely. Recent new sexual partners may indicate an exposure to trichomoniasis and fishy foul discharge may indicate an overgrowth of bacterial leading to a presumptive diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis.

Since there is considerable overlap with respect to symptomatology, it is important that you see a health care professional for a correct diagnosis so that treatment may be started. Since symptoms overlap and discharge, consistency and color can fool even the best clinician, formalized testing is sometimes advocated to minimize misdiagnosis.

Your internal medicine specialist, family physician or gynecologist will perform a history and physical examination of the vulva or vagina.  An office microscopic evaluation of the vaginal discharge (wet prep) can be preformed to identify a vaginal infection.  To complete a wet mount, a sample of the discharge is placed on a glass slide and mixed with a variety of solutions.  On one slide, salty solutions are used, and the slide is then examined under the microscope. Hyphea, branching filaments from fungus, may indicate candidal infection. It will show clue cells, cells stipulated with bacteria (bacterial vaginoisis), trichomonona (swimming parasites which will move under the microscope) indicating trichomoniasis.

Another test called the Potassium Hydroxide Test can be done. Discharge is placed on a slide and is mixed with potassium hydroxide that will only leave yeast cells visible. A whiff test uses a slide that has vaginal discharge on it, and then a few drops of potassium hydroxide are placed on it.  A strong fishy odor may indicate bacterial vaginosis.

Other health care professionals prefer doing cultures or wet mounts and sent to the laboratory for official pathological interpretation.  The results are often retrieved within 72 hours.  During the pelvic examination, many specialists may choose to measure the vaginal ph or acid base balance.  A small piece of specialized paper is touched to the vaginal walls and the ph is recorded.  The normal vaginal ph is 3.8 to 4.5.  An elevation of the ph may indicate bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis or atrophic vaginitis.




Read more about symptoms affecting the vulva and vagina that may be causing discomfort or pain.

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Read more about vulvar and vaginal disorders that affect women and their quality of life.

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