Advanced Search

Images Only
Home What's New »BBBBB Submit »BBBBB Browse »BBBBB About »BBBBB Get Involved

You must purchase a subscription in order to login


You must login in order to browse the Full-text


Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education – Volume 8, 2007


Sixteen New Visual Resources


Two New Curriculum Resources

Help Desk:
Phone: 202-942-9299


Site Disclaimer

© American Society
    for Microbiology,
    Washington DC

Printable Version
Examination of Gram Stains of Vaginal Secretions
Resource Type: Visual: Image
Publication Date: 2/6/2007
Slide 1

Lactobacillus species (Enlarged view)
Slide 2

Gardnerella vaginalis (Enlarged view)
Slide 3

Mobiluncus mulieris (Enlarged view)
Slide 4

Trichomonas vaginalis (Enlarged view)
Slide 5

Trichomonas vaginalis (Enlarged view)
Slide 6

Candida albicans (Enlarged view)
Rebecca Buxton (Corresponding Author)
Department of Pathology
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah 84132

These images are from the original published atlas: Tenover, F. C., and J. V. Hirschmann. 1990. Interpretation of Gram stains and other common microbiologic slide preparations. The UpJohn Company, Kalamazoo, Mich. Permission granted to the ASM MicrobeLibrary by Pfizer Inc.
This atlas was written to help clinicians, microbiologists, and laboratory personnel identify organisms in infected materials stained by techniques commonly used in most clinical laboratories. Please refer to the atlas' main page for more information and a guide to all of the images.

Gram stains and wet mounts are useful in detecting potential pathogens in vaginal discharges. The most common forms of vulvovaginitis are bacterial vaginosis and infections with Trichomonas vaginalis or Candida albicans
Slide 1. Normal vaginal secretions
This specimen of vaginal fluid contains epithelial cells and many gram-positive bacilli that are Lactobacillus species, a major part of the normal vaginal flora. The lack of neutrophils and the presence of normal epithelial cells suggest that inflammation is absent.

Slide 2. Bacterial vaginosis
This epithelial cell is a “clue cell” to which large numbers of Gardnerella vaginalis adhere. The presence of clue cells is an important criterion in diagnosing bacterial vaginosis, apparently a synergistic infection involving G. vaginalis and anaerobic bacteria. Gardnerella vaginalis frequently stains gram-variable, as does Mobiluncus curtisii, an anaerobic bacterium often associated with bacterial vaginosis and visible here as gram-positive curved rods.

Slide. 3. Bacterial vaginosis
Several curved gram-negative bacilli are on and near a vaginal epithelial cell to which small gram-positive bacilli also adhere. The gram-negative rods are Mobiluncus mulieris, bacteria often present in the secretions of patients with bacterial vaginosis.

Slide 4. Trichomonas vaginalis
This Gram-stained specimen shows a large oval organism with an axostyle, which is a supporting rod running through the body of a trichomonad and protruding posteriorly. Trichomonas vaginalis, a protozoan that causes vaginitis, is usually more easily detected on a wet mount than on a Gram stain.

Slide 5. Trichomonas vaginalis (wet prep)
In this wet mount, a specimen of discharge was mixed with a drop of 0.9% NaCl and viewed under a coverslip. Several oval organisms with flagella are visible. Trichomonads are often larger than neutrophils (white blood cells) and, on a wet mount, often move with a jerky motion across the microscopic field.

Slide 6. Candida albicans
Wet mounts as well as Gram stains can be used to detect yeasts such as Candida albicans, shown here with budding pseudohyphae.