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Amsel's Diagnostic Criteria for Bacterial Vaginosis

Three of four criteria must be met; establishes accurate diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis in 90 percent of affected women.

  • Homogeneous vaginal discharge (color and amount may vary)
  • Amine (fishy) odor when potassium hydroxide solution is added to vaginal secretions (commonly called the "whiff test")
  • Presence of clue cells (greater than 20%) on microscopy*
  • Vaginal pH greater than 4.5

* Highly significant criterion.


Related Criteria

CDC Diagnostic Criteria for the Diagnosis of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Diagnostic Criteria in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Syndromes or Disease Entities That Have Been Associated with Polycystic Ovaries




  1. Egan ME, Lipsky MS. Diagnosis of vaginitis. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Sep 1;62(5):1095-104. [Medline]
  2. Amsel R, Totten PA, Spiegel CA, Chen KC, Eschenbach D, Holmes KK. Nonspecific vaginitis. Diagnostic criteria and microbial and epidemiologic associations. Am J Med. 1983 Jan;74(1):14-22. [Medline]

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Created: August 16, 2005
Last Modified: 10/23/2010

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