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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!

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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.

please could you tell me what the small black spots are near the vulva? One is the size of spot and is a hard lump. Thanks





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I can't watch the video! Not useful if I can't view it! Please fix this problem. Came to this site for information via the Association for Lichen Sclerosis & Vulval Health





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I'm not sexually active but I masturbate often. I recently decided to examine my vagina and I notice that I have like black bruises almost in the inside of my vagina. I'm kind of freaking out.





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Are you sure they're bruises? Some people naturally have brown or even black inner labia. Perhaps that's just the way you are, and if so, it's definitely nothing to freak out about!

My vaginal entrance feels sore with any form of penetration, not even able to use tampons.. It gets worse if I have sex and the burning often worsens after urination (it feels less painful if I drink a lot of water and stay away from alcohol or other drinks), also the burning after urination lasts for about 20-30 minutes. I have had UTIs and taken antibiotics and now I test negative for any bacteria that causes UTIs, I have also taken treatment for thrush however I am sure it is not thrush due to the lack of itching. these symptoms have occurred for months now and also appear to worsen during my period, I am also only 18.





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I think I have am abnormal discharge, I've been to the doctors for a swab and got tested for chlamydia and thrush and was all clear, it's like a white- greeny colour and it's quite thick with a slight smell, no itching. Do you have any idea what it could be?





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I am freaking out a little I have noticed changes in my vagina where my hole is sorry to be rude there's some skin with a small hole in it I have a 4 yr old and noticed it looks different to what it was 12 months ago HELP PLEASE





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I have some white areas just inside the opening to my vagina - it is not fully liquid like discharge but it is not itchy. What is this?





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I have a bright red approx. 1 cm long, oblong shaped spot on the perineum. It is comes and goes. Looks like blood under it. No discharge, little itchy sometimes, no pain. What this would be? I went to my Gyno, he said looks like bruise. I do not wear tight clothes. I am 65 years old, postmenopausal woman. Could be a broken blood vessel, since the skin get thinner with age? Thank you very much for any help!





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I wonder if it could be caused from riding a bike, horseback riding or something else like that?

Thank you very much for your reply. I do not do non of them.

I have a red spot on my vulva, looks like blood under it, it is comes and goes away. It is on the perineum. Any answer would be appreciated. I am not sexually active and 65 years old. Not ichy, not painful, no discharge. Thank you very much.





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I have recently just got a "sore" on my inner lip on the top left. It's not really a sore but it's like a little ball feels like I would be able to pop it but it won't. It's a little purplish sometimes. My lymph nodes on my upper left side on my groin get swollen sometimes always think it's because I'm about to get my period. Recently I started spotting after sex and always thought my period as well but then I wouldn't have it after that day. This ball/blister/sore whatever it is is starting to bother me. Please help!!!





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





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