The accuracy of women performing vaginal pH self-testing

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2008 May;17(4):523-6. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2007.0446.


Objective: To determine if women could measure their vaginal pH as accurately as could physicians.

Methods: Each participant measured her vaginal pH using a swab, completed a survey, and then was seen by her physician, who also performed a vaginal pH test. The physician did not have access to the patient's pH reading; only the study coordinator recorded patient results. Accuracy of patient measurements compared with physician results was analyzed by the kappa statistic.

Results: A total of 161 women were enrolled in the study. The average difference between the patients' pH readings and the physicians' readings was <0.5. Overall, 85% of the patients' readings were in agreement with the physicians' readings, and the kappa statistic was 0.6.

Conclusions: Study participants could accurately measure vaginal pH through self-testing. Vaginal pH self-testing may be a convenient tool to help women determine whether they should use an over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal medication or go to a physician for diagnostic workup.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravaginal
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antifungal Agents / administration & dosage
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Medication / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • United States
  • Vaginal Smears / methods*
  • Vaginitis / diagnosis*
  • Vaginitis / drug therapy


  • Antifungal Agents
  • DNA, Viral