Vaginal exudate: what is the smear in the vagina and what is it used for?

If you have already gone to your gynecologist's office for an initial gynecological examination, it is quite possible that you already know the importance of vaginal exudate, an essential medical test when there are symptoms or signs related to certain pathologies or diseases, especially in case of a possible sexually transmitted disease (STD).

It is, in fact, a very important method of diagnosis in pregnancy, which helps the medical specialist to discover the possible existence of bacteria (especially group B streptococci) in the birth canal, that when the time comes to give birth , affect the baby during the delivery.

What is the exudate of the vagina and how is it done?

It consists of a very easy and painless test in which the gynecologist extracts a flow sample from the vagina area. To do this, he uses a swab, which is a medical instrument whose shape and appearance is very similar to that of an ear swab.

And what is it used for? Fundamentally it is tremendously useful to rule out or diagnose the possible existence of vaginal infections, which may be causing certain symptoms and discomfort in women. That is, it is a diagnostic tool very common in gynecological practice, especially suitable in case of vaginitis.

For example, among the symptoms that most commonly occur when suffering from a vaginal infection we can mention the presence of: unpleasant vaginal odor, itching and vaginal burning, secretion different from what is considered normal, and also sensation of pain and / or irritation to the urinating or having sex.

How is it done?

  1. To do it, the woman should be as relaxed as possible, to avoid discomfort. This is placed on your back on a stretcher with support to place your legs or insert your heels.
  2. The gynecologist places a speculum in the vagina, which opens later and allows easier access to the vaginal walls and cervix.
  3. Then a swab or swab slides over the secretions, obtaining a sample of the vaginal walls. This utensil has in its interior a culture medium that provides the possibility of nourishing the germs and preventing them from disappearing in the transport process to the laboratory.

Once the sample obtained is examined in the laboratory and will identify which causative agents are causing the symptoms, if any.

In case of suspicion of bacterial vaginosis It is also possible to perform the test of the amines, consisting of mixing a small amount of vaginal secretion with a few drops of potassium hydroxide, which will produce a fish-like smell if it is positive.

Why is vaginal-rectal exudate so important in pregnancy?

In pregnancy, and especially in the final stage of pregnancy (that is, when the date of birth approaches), the analysis it's of vital importance, since it provides the possibility for the gynecologist to detect in advance the existence - or not - of bacteria located in the birth canal, and that when the time comes, they could affect the baby.

Thus It is done in the third trimester of pregnancy, In most occasions, between weeks 35 and 37, given that it is the ideal time to detect the existence of type bacteria group B streptococcus (GBS), and its possible contagion to the baby through the well-known canal of the birth (conduit by which the baby circulates during the childbirth, extending from the superior narrow of the pelvis to the orifice of the vagina). In fact, this is what our own advice Spanish Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (SEGO).

It is estimated that, in reality, the chances of infection by the baby in childbirth are really minimal, giving between 0.5 to 1.5 cases per 1,000 births. However, if it occurs, its consequences are very serious for babies, since in the long term can cause mental retardation or loss of vision or hearing.

And, in case of bacterial vaginosis in the pregnant woman, when the result is positive for the presence of Streptococcus B, during delivery a prophylactic antibiotic treatment is carried out. In most cases, the mother is given a dose of intravenous antibiotic every four or six hours during delivery, specifically since regular contractions begin and the dilation has reached three centimeters, until the time of birth of the baby.

What to do in case of vaginal infection?

In case of viral or bacterial vaginosis, and the woman is not pregnant, the appropriate medical treatment will be prescribed by the gynecologist.In most cases, a treatment based on antifungals such as Metronidazole or Clindamycin is followed, which helps in eliminating the bacteria, in turn calming the symptoms.

However, in case of pregnancy, and the presence of Streptococcus B is positive, antibiotic treatment will be followed in the delivery, in order to avoid - and prevent - its transmission to the baby.

Can they be prevented?

There are some basic care you can follow every day when it comes to preventing or avoiding vaginal infections. For example, it is advisable to maintain a proper intimate hygiene, keeping it always clean and dry.

It is also useful to avoid the use of very tight or tight clothing, always trying to make it cotton, fresh and light. In addition, the use of condoms is essential. MEDICAL REFERENCES CONSULTED

  • Polanco N, Manzi L, Carmona O (2012). [Possible role of enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis in the etiology of infectious vaginitis]. Available at: //
  • Eschenbach DA, Hillier S, Critchlow C, Stevens C, DeRouen T, Holmes KK (1988). Diagnosis and clinical manifestations of bacterial vaginosis.Am J Obstet Gynecol. Available at: //
This article is published for informational purposes only. It can not and should not replace the consultation with a Physician. We advise you to consult your Trusted Doctor.

Vaginal Wet Mount, Microscopic View (February 2021)