WARNING: The Embarrassing Bodies website contains images of an explicit medical nature and nudity in a medical context.

Embarrassing Bodies, 1:00am Friday 19th December 2014 on Channel 4. Catch up for free on 4oD »

Video

Dr Dawn:
Each year in the UK there are about 1000 diagnosed cases of vulval cancer. It generally affects women after the menopause and most cases occur after the age of 65. Relative to other cancers, vulval cancer is rare but there are other vulval conditions that affect women of all ages and they are most easily, safely and successfully treated when discovered early so vulval self-examination is important.

You should be checking your vulva monthly. However, don’t self-examine if you’ve recently had a baby, a miscarriage of any other vaginal procedure as you’re open to infection. Wait until you are fully healed.

To self-examine, sit in a well-lit area that is comfortable like a bed, make sure your hands are clean and don’t apply any vaginal creams before self-examining as this may interfere with your ability to detect abnormalities. Hold a mirror in one hand and use the other hand to separate and expose the parts of the vulva surrounding the opening to the vagina. Can you see OK?

Patient: Yes thank you

Dr Dawn:
First you want to check the area above the pubic bone where the pubic hair is. This is the Mons Pubis and you are looking carefully for any lumps or bumps, ulcers, warts, changes in skin colour particularly anything that is in your white area or even red or dark areas. And then you need to use your fingers to feel for any lumps that you may not be able to see, that one feels fine… And then you are going to move down to check the clitoris and the surrounding area. Now I’m moving down towards the vaginal opening and I’m checking small folds of skin to the left and right. These are the Labia Minora and after checking the small folds of skin we go to the bigger folds next to them, the Labia Majora. Moving down again we check the area between the vagina and the anus. Again you’re looking and feeling and lastly check the area surrounding the anal opening as vulval disease can go down as far as that. So would you like to have a go at self-examining?

If you’ve noticed any lumps, are experiencing any itching or pain, feel a burning sensation when passing urine, or if you have any unusual discharge or you bleed after sex, between periods or after the menopause, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Some symptoms can be from a minor condition, but sometimes they can be indicators of something more serious so it’s best to get any symptoms checked out.

There’s no screening programme for vulval cancer but you should be having routine cervical smear tests so make sure you go as the nurse or doctor should examine your vulva at the same time and with you checking every month too any symptoms that occur should be detected quickly.

Don’t be shy about checking your vulva. It’s as important as self-examining your breasts or for a man to self-examine his testicles and if you do discover a lump or any other symptom, don’t put off seeing your doctor. Untreated vulval cancer can spread but if it’s caught early the better the treatment and the better the outcome.

Read the video transcript

How To Check Your Vulva

Around 1000 cases of vulval cancer are diagnosed every year in the UK, mainly in women who have been through the menopause. However, there are also a range of other vulval conditions that affect all women – highlighting how important it is to self-check your vulva. Although it may seem daunting if you haven’t self-checked before, Dr Dawn Harper’s guide will show you exactly how to conduct the check – so grab that mirror!

Did you find this useful? YesYes NoNo

9584 of 10497 people said they found this useful

Comments and Questions

You can share your experiences and thoughts with other Embarrassing Bodies site-users below. Comments & Questions are reviewed by moderators, but if you see anything on the site that worries you, please report it and one of our moderators will look at it as soon as possible.
Please note: Unfortunately Channel 4 cannot respond to individual inquiries. If you have any concerns, you can check out NHS Choices, but ultimately it is always best to check with a health professional.

Hi I have found 2 lumps on the outer of my vigina and was wondering what they are. They don't hurt unless u touch them and also I am pregnant what should I do. I have never had them before and the colour is skin colour please help?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I'm 13 years and have had some pain in my vaginal area lately I have got some sort of skin tag which I don't think will cause any harm but my vaginal area sometimes gets very sore and red and I have constant leaking into my pants is this common or should I look further into it?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

I noticed in the bath today that my inner lips looked different..almost like small chunks had disappeared... No pain or itchiness





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi, I recently turned 14 and I have no idea what my 'down there' area is supposed to look like. It's the same as when I was younger, but I noticed when I was in the shower there's this kind of really small lump- barely noticeable- on it. It's the same color as the rest of the area. Oh and I haven't had my period or been sexually active in any way if that helps. I don't know if everyone has this? Sorry I'm just really worried and I can't really talk to anyone about it. Sorry.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Hi, I recently turned 14 and I have no idea what my 'down there' area is supposed to look like. It's the same as when I was younger, but I noticed when I was in the shower there's this kind of really small lump- barely noticeable- on it. It's the same color as the rest of the area. Oh and I haven't had my period or been sexually active in any way if that helps. I don't know if everyone has this? Sorry I'm just really worried and I can't really talk to anyone about it. Sorry.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

i can feel like a smooth lump thing one finger deepish inside of my vagina and i am freaking out i have no idea what it is, should i go to the doctor?





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

i forgot to add that im not having sex with guys too

I have exactly the same thing! Does it feel like there is an opening in the middle too? Sometimes it is deeper and other times it's right near the opening :/ I'm really worried it might be a prolapse, I've got on going problems with my bladder and vagina and am getting so concerned about it...

Chi, Im 15 im not sexually active and the outside of my vagina is crazy itchy and I think I have a wierd bump thing





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

My vagina has bluish looking spots on the inside folds of the clitoris. Is that a std.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.


Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

i have just found a red hard lump on my vulva, very painful to touch. not an ingrown hair as I haven't shaved for weeks and it has only just appeared over the last couple of days. I have not been able to book an appointment yet as I work full time.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

my vagina is itchy and just utterly painful. it has been going on for the last two weeks, I have not had sexual intercourse as I am only 13 years old I do shave'down there' and I am afraid I just cant tell my doctor please help me I cant sleep at night its that painful. by the way I do masturbate very much and i do have plenty of discharge I have not been on my period thanks a lot please help me





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.


Please don't swear or be rude in your answers, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting answers. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

Sounds like thrush, This isn't a sti or std t is simply too much yeast, which is normal, Maybe a change of diet can help and don't use soaps to clean in between your legs use a special feminine wash if you must, but water is best, keeping clean is essential but using soaps will wash away bacteria you need, Also don't wear tight underwear or nylon as this will make it feel worse, You can go to a chemist or pharmacy and get thrush treatment over the counter and i don't think you have to be a certain age to use it, Just read the instructions and you'll be fine, You should talk to someone about it, Its very common and you need to find out what is causing it, It may simply be hormones changing or food you are eating.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your comment.



Please don’t swear or be rude in your comments, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting comments. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines

It looks like no one else has asked this question, so please fill in the rest of your details below.





This will be published. Surnames, nicknames or usernames are not allowed


Your email address will be kept confidential and will NOT be published – it is only being collected here in case Channel 4 need to contact you in relation to your answer.



Please don't swear or be rude in your questions, as they will not be added to the site. Please do not use your full name when posting questions. If in doubt, refer to the community guidelines

Questions submitted to the site will be answered by other site users, not by medical professionals, so if you have a medical concern, please book an appointment with your GP.

By posting on this website you are agreeing to abide by our community guidelines


More Information

  1. Consultation: Enlarged Labia

    In Videos - A woman comes to see Dr McKenna about her enlarged labia.

  2. Doctor Responses: Testicular Cancer

    In Videos - Dr Christian explores the myths and common questions surrounding te…

  3. Vaginas

    In Episodes - The EI team roll into Norwich to setup a clinic in one of the count…

  4. Enlarged Prostate

    In Conditions - An enlarged prostate (known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH)…

  5. Quick Health Advice: Moles

    In Videos - Dr Jessen advises on the kind of mole you should be looking out for…

  6. Consultation: Breast Reconstruction

    In Videos - Dr Jessen treats a breasts cancer survivor who wants to receive an…

  7. Body Check: Moles

    In Videos - Dr Christian talks about how to check your moles for potentially da…

  8. Vaginal Dryness

    In Conditions - Vaginas should normally be moist, but due to a number of factors, s…

  9. Body Check: Stools

    In Videos - Dr Christian describes what different shapes and colours of poo can…

  10. Consultation: Prostate Cancer

    In Videos - Dr Jessen treats a patient whose Prostate Cancer has worsened in re…

  11. Consultation: Vaginal Prolapse

    In Videos - Dr Harper examines a woman who has suffered a prolapsed vagina afte…

  12. We're Coming to Get You!

    In Episodes - The Docs are back, and this time they're coming to get you!

  13. Enlarged Labia

    In Conditions - Many women are born with larger or more noticeably asymmetric labia…

  14. Dr Christian Jessen

    In Videos - Find out more about Dr Christian Jessen

  15. Sagging Breasts

    In Conditions - Everyone's boobs eventually succumb to the downward pull of gravity…


Help Beat Cancer

Download our free mobile game to help Reverse The Odds in the fight against cancer.

Available on App Store, Google Play and Amazon App Store >

Important Notice

The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.


If you want to embed our videos in your site, read our embedding T&Cs here