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J Reprod Med. 2007 Feb;52(2):93-9.

Expansion of altered vaginal flora states in vaginitis to include a spectrum of microflora.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona 85259, USA.



To define the existence of 2 patterns of altered vaginal flora in symptomatic women identified on wet preparations that are not in the current vaginitis classification system.


Testing of vaginal secretions from gynecologic patients at Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona, who presented with vulvo-vaginal symptoms by vaginal pH, whiff testing, and saline and potassium hydroxide wet preparations. Over 14 years, approximately 5,000 samples were analyzed. Wet preparations were analyzed under low- (x 100) and high-power (x 400) phase-contrast microscopy.


The first pattern has mixed bacteria with few or no lactobacilli, increased leukocytes and elevated pH. This pattern has a spectrum of severity, with the severe form meeting the diagnostic definition of desquamative inflammatory vaginitis. The mild-to-moderate form, termed inflammatory vaginitis, falls outside established diagnostic categories. The second pattern also has a spectrum of severity. The mild-to-moderate form, termed noninflammatory vaginosis, has mixed bacteria speckling squamous cells (but not obscuring edges), few or no lactobacilli, no leukocyte response and mildly elevated pH. This form differs from the severe form, which meets Amsel's criteria for bacterial vaginosis.


The current classification system requires revision because it oversimplifies and ignores the full spectrum of altered vaginal microflora.

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