A sample of vaginal discharge is obtained with a cotton swab or wooden spatula and spread on glass slides, which are examined under a microscope. Wet mount is typically done to identify suspected vaginal infections (vaginitis) in women who are experiencing symptoms such as vaginal itching, pain, odor or abnormal discharge.

Purpose of the Wet Mount

  • To identify viral, fungal, and parasitic infections of the vagina that do not involve the urinary tract

Who Performs Wet Mount

  • A gynecologist or a nurse practitioner

Special Concerns about Wet Mount

  • None

Before the Wet Mount

  • Do not douche for 24 hours before the test.
  • You will be asked to disrobe from the waist down and put on a drape or hospital gown.

What You Experience during Wet Mount

  • You will lie on an examining table, with your knees bent and feet resting in stirrups.
  • A small metal or plastic instrument, called a speculum, is inserted into your vagina to hold the vaginal walls slightly open. (This may cause slight discomfort, but is not painful.) Relax and breathe deeply through your mouth to ease insertion.
  • The examiner inserts a sterile, moist cotton swab or wooden spatula into the vagina to collect a sample of vaginal secretions; the sample is spread on glass slides, which are examined under a microscope.
  • The speculum is withdrawn.
  • The test usually takes about 2 to 3 minutes.

Risks and Complications of Wet Mount

  • There are no risks or complications.

After the Wet Mount

  • You may dress and return to your normal activities.

Results of Wet Mount

  • A physician will examine the slides under a microscope for the presence of unusual cells. Possible causes of vaginitis include yeast infection (caused by a fungus called Candida albicans), a parasitic infection called trichomoniasis, and bacterial infection.
  • If a definitive diagnosis can be made, appropriate treatment will be initiated. In some cases, such as trichomoniasis, your sexual partner should be treated as well.


The Johns Hopkins Consumer Guide to Medical Tests

Simeon Margolis, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Editor

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 25 Jan 2012

Last Modified: 08 Jan 2015