Which physical findings are characteristic of bacterial vaginosis?

Updated: Dec 04, 2018
  • Author: Hetal B Gor, MD, FACOG; Chief Editor: Michel E Rivlin, MD  more...
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Physical findings in bacterial vaginosis include a homogeneous, frothy vaginal discharge that is grayish-white to yellowish-white in color. The discharge appears adherent to the vaginal mucosa. Typically, no underlying erythema exists. As many as 50% of women with bacterial vaginosis are asymptomatic.

Bacterial vaginosis can be diagnosed if 3 of the following 4 Amsel criteria are present (see Workup):

  • Homogeneous, white, adherent discharge

  • Vaginal pH higher than 4.5

  • Amine (fishy) smell from vaginal discharge when potassium hydroxide (KOH) is added (whiff test)

  • Clue cells on wet mount

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