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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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I've always had a brown blob of skin on one of my labia what is this? It's preventing me being sexually active because I feel guys will think something is wrong or it's disgusting.





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I just recently noticed a bump on my vagina over my pubic bone in the pubic hair region. It is about the size of a pea. It is very red and painful when it has pressure put onto it. I have shaved there before but not in a couple months. I am still in high school and I am scared to tell my parents about it... how should I tell them?





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Sounds like an I growing hair, or maybe a spot. This area is usually rather painful to get spots or in growing hairs in. If it doesn't go after around 10 days then maybe bring it up to someone. Remember when shaving always exfoliate and shave with the hair growth- not away. Hope this helps!

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I am a 47 year old woman who has gone throught the menopause I started bleeding in November after sex and bleed for 21 days they gave me a scan and biosopy allclear but I bleed again for 6 days again but this time I have pain in my stomache(cramps) also feel very sick and pains in both my sides on and off they have said my ovary is enlarged and the texture isn't right sending me for another biosopy and scan should I be worried

This morning I was diagnosed with lichen sclerosus. Have been scared to go to my gp for years but after years of suffering I feel so much happier now at least I have a diagnosis. Im 65 and post menapausal.





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I have a lump just into the hole of my vagina. I can put my finer on each side of it and behind it. Iv never noticed it before. I also have a dull ache at the bottom of my stomach. I'm really worried about it. What could it be? I'm 26 and never had children.





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I have found some little brown scaly patches on my major labia but there is no itching, no burning Recently I went to gynacologist she said as I loose some weight that's why the skin appears like this, but I am so worried please help me out





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My vagina entrance and inside lips are sore and itchy. my clit hurts to touch and I have this nude/brownish discharge from my vagina. it's starting to hurt to wee because of the pain and soreness inside of my vagina. any idea what this could be?





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I've noticed these white bumps inside my vagina and I'm scared idk what it could be I get really itchy and I feel burning sensation can someone help me it also looks like I have a type of white ulcer down there is that normal?





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I noticed i have a "greyish" small pea size bump near my vagina opening (one side only) and its very sore and tender cannot touch it sitting or pressure hurt alot. no drainage. just very sore and urinating stings on it. appeared only about 5 mos ago. I am not sexually active. havent in years any help or advice. thanks





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can I get my vagina tidied up? My inner lip hangs out (yeah only one :/) it makes me feel so self concious and is stopping me being in a relationship. I want it gone please help :(





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