Variability of vaginal pH determination by patients and clinicians

Daron Gale Ferris, Sean L. Francis, Eileen D. Dickman, Kimberly Miler-Miles, Jennifer L Waller, Nora McClendon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-373
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 19 2006

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Vagina
Vaginitis
Proton-Motive Force
Selection Bias
Nonparametric Statistics
Analysis of Variance
Cross-Sectional Studies
Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice

Cite this

Variability of vaginal pH determination by patients and clinicians. / Ferris, Daron Gale; Francis, Sean L.; Dickman, Eileen D.; Miler-Miles, Kimberly; Waller, Jennifer L; McClendon, Nora.

In: Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Vol. 19, No. 4, 19.07.2006, p. 368-373.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ferris, Daron Gale ; Francis, Sean L. ; Dickman, Eileen D. ; Miler-Miles, Kimberly ; Waller, Jennifer L ; McClendon, Nora. / Variability of vaginal pH determination by patients and clinicians. In: Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2006 ; Vol. 19, No. 4. pp. 368-373.
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