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J Am Board Fam Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;19(4):368-73.

Variability of vaginal pH determination by patients and clinicians.

Author information

1
Department of Family Medicine, The Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA 30912, USA. dferris@mcg.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Measurement of intravaginal pH provides a reasonable assessment of vaginal health but is fraught with the potential for several sampling errors. The purposes of the study were to determine the variability of self-sampled vaginal pH among women using an inexpensive swab-based pH test compared with a clinician-obtained specimen, and variability of vaginal pH within 3 regions of the normal vagina.

METHODS:

In this cross-sectional study, women obtained a vaginal specimen using a cotton-tip applicator, transferred it to pH paper, and interpreted the results. A clinician also blindly interpreted these tests. Thereafter, a clinician obtained 3 swab specimens from the proximal, middle, and distal vagina for pH testing. Results were compared using Wilcoxon signed rank test, interclass correlation coefficients, Bland-Altman plots, and mixed-model analysis of variance.

RESULTS:

Interclass correlation coefficients were moderately high comparing subjects with clinician for the swab-based pH test (0.74). Subjects' swab pH values (4.5) were significantly lower than clinicians' pH values (4.7, P = .0001). Intravaginal pH did not vary between the 3 anatomic locations.

CONCLUSIONS:

Self-sampled intravaginal pH interpretations vary slightly compared with clinician-obtained specimens. Because swab pH sampling does not detect an intravaginal pH gradient in normal women, self-sampling technique may vary considerably without affecting outcomes. Our findings support self-sampling for vaginal pH before using over-the-counter products for presumed vaginitis.

PMID:
16809651
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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