Vagina HealthSymptoms & Diseases

How Is Abnormal Vaginal Discharge Diagnosed?

Vaginal discharge, cervical mucus, and arousal fluid are considered normal and not indicative of disease, and therefore are not typically evaluated.

But if you have had a change in discharge or are experiencing symptoms such as burning, irritation, itching or pain, your doctor may look at cervical mucus to check for abnormalities that suggest a symptom from an infection or STD.

What to Expect at a Doctor’s Appointment ?

When you see your doctor for abnormal vaginal discharge, you’ll get a physical exam, including a pelvic exam. In many cases, an infection can be detected by the physical or pelvic exam.

If your doctor can’t diagnose the problem immediately, they may order some tests. Your doctor may want to take a scraping from your cervix to check for HPV or cervical cancer. Your discharge may also be examined under a microscope to pinpoint an infectious agent. Once your doctor can tell you the cause of the discharge, you’ll be given treatment options.

The doctor will start by taking a health history and asking about your symptoms. Questions may include:

  • When did the abnormal discharge begin?
  • What color is the discharge?
  • Is there any smell?
  • Do you have any itching, pain, or burning in or around the vagina?
  • Do you have more than one sexual partner?
  • Do you douche?

The doctor may take a sample of the discharge or do a Pap test to collect cells from your cervix for further examination.

Diagnosis Tests:

  • Pelvic exam involves your doctor examining the vagina and cervix by putting pressure on the uterus and ovaries to check for abnormalities in the tissue and organs.
  • pH test determines the acid level of the discharge, because infections can cause changes in the pH of the vagina.
  • Wet mount examines a sample of discharge to look for a yeast, bacterial, or trichomonas infection.
  • STD testing involves sending a sample of the discharge to a lab to test for gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomonas or other organisms that may be causing the discharge

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