Many women experience vaginal problems from time to time, and diagnosis often involves a vaginitis test, also known as a ‘wet prep’ test. However, the wet prep test does not always provide the type of analysis needed to make an accurate diagnosis. Fortunately, the VFA test is now available.
The Vaginal Microflora
The vagina is home to over 30 strains of good and bad bacteria, which make up the vaginal microflora. When the vagina is in a normal state, the good bacteria dominate the environment and create a protective barrier against pathogens.
The good bacteria or lactobacilli also help maintain the mildly acidic pH level of the vagina. This pH level contributes to the health of the vagina because pathogens don’t thrive in this type of environment. However, if there is a shift in the normal vaginal microflora, it can increase the pH of the vagina and lead to the overgrowth of hostile bacteria.
A change in the composition of bacteria in the vagina can cause vaginal secretions to irritate the vaginal tissues. This can trigger a variety of symptoms, including odor, burning, rawness, chronic discharge, vulva pain, irritation, urinary frequency, and urinary urgency.
There are several known patterns of flora, but a microbial pattern that differs from the normal is an abnormal or altered microflora pattern.
How is an altered flora pattern detected? That’s where the vaginal fluid analysis (VFA) test comes in.
Vaginal Diagnostics: All About The VFA Test
The vaginal fluid analysis (VFA) test is an innovative tool that was developed by Dr. R. Stuart Fowler vulvovaginal specialist of Fowler GYN (FGI) International. Dr. Fowler is a board-certified gynecologist and worked at the Mayo Clinic for 22 years as a consultant in gynecology before establishing FGI in 2013.
The VFA test provides a quantitative analysis of the constituents of the vaginal secretions to establish if the flora is in an altered state. It is a superior option to the traditional wet prep test used by gynecologists to test for vaginitis, as it provides a more comprehensive analysis of the vaginal constituents.
What’s Involved In The VFA Test
The VFA test analyses the vaginal fluid to identify the following:
- Quantity and concentration of good bacteria (lactobacilli)
- The concentration of bad bacteria
- Maturation stage of the squamous cells present
- Concentration levels of squamous cells
- Type and percentage of white blood cells present (if any)
- The relative concentration of yeast present (if any)
A small sample of vaginal fluid is collected, and then chemicals and stains are added to reveal specific characteristics. The fluids that result are injected into micro-plastic grids, and the slides are examined under a phase-contrast microscope with high power objectives. The VFA test will determine if the vaginal microflora is healthy and normal or if it is in an abnormal state.
Benefits Of The VFA Test
Vulvovaginal conditions such as vulvodynia, chronic vaginal discharge, and recurrent vaginal yeast infections, are caused by an altered vaginal microflora. The results of the VFA test provide the information needed to make an accurate diagnosis and formulate a customized treatment protocol.
At FGI, they treat altered vaginal microflora using vaginal rejuvenation therapy. The treatment consists of medications and hypocontactant skincare products, which help move the microflora to a normal state and restore the health of the vaginal mucosa.
Most patients experience some relief after about 4 months on the treatment protocol, but it can take up to 8 months to see a significant response.