Chapter 20: The pelvic exam
Vinegar test for HPV
Many people are infected with a sexually transmitted virus
called human papilloma virus (HPV). Women get HPV when
they have sex with someone who has it. Some types of HPV
cause genital warts. Other types of HPV can cause cancer in the
cervix. Most women with HPV have no warts and no other
visible signs of the virus. See page 333 for more about HPV. If a
woman has one of the dangerous types of HPV for a long time,
it may cause cancer of the cervix which can lead to death.
Testing for HPV and removing cancer cells from the cervix can
save women’s lives.
The vinegar test is a very simple way to check if the woman
has HPV on her cervix. A positive vinegar test shows sores on
the cervix that are usually not visible. These sores could be
caused by HPV, cancer, or other sexually transmitted infections.
1. Insert a speculum and look at the
2. Hold a sterilized piece of gauze or
cloth with a sterilized pair of forceps
or long tweezers. You can also use a
long swab if you have one.
3. Dip the gauze into plain white
vinegar (any vinegar can work, as
long as it has 4% to 5% acetic acid)
and wet the cervix with the vinegar.
Remove the gauze. The vinegar
should not hurt the cervix but
it may sting a little.
4. Wait for 1 minute. If the woman is
infected with HPV, white patches
will usually appear on the cervix.
If the woman has white patches, she needs care
right away from a medical center. She may be given
more tests, or she may have the sores frozen or
removed so they do not grow into cancer.
A Book for Midwives (2010)