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

Embarrassing Bodies, 9:00pm Thursday 24th July 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

8923 of 9823 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.

Hiya I'm 15 years old and i have a really fishy odour coming from my vagina its really embarrassing because if i wear a dress or leggings you can smell it when i sit down it makes me feel really self conscious in public etc after one day of wearing knickers they go bright yellow and smell of fishy.. also i have alot of extra labia which is really embarrassing because its stopping me and my boyfriend doing sexual activities as i feel it will put him off.is there any possible home remedies i can use to get rid of both of these as I'm definitly not going the my gp or doctors or hospital many thanks!:)





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 used to get this, do you wash yourself with soap or shower gel down there? Because that can cause an imbalance and irritation? I got diagnosed with BV (bacterial vaginosis) it's worth going to your doctor, I got some tablets which made it go away :)

Hey I'm 19 and currently after me and boyfriend had intercourse I've been experiencing this pain in the mons of my vagina. It don't hurt that bad, kinda hurts like I haven't went pee all day and it only hurts when I do pee and been peeing more often lately and have little blood in my urine too! Should I be worried? Do you think he could've ripped something?





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

It sounds like you have a urinary tract infection (UTI ). It is scarry the first time you get one but it's verry common and easily treated. Your Dr. Can give you some meds to clear it right up. A lot of things can cause you to get a UTI, I have heard that having sex with a full bladder can cause a UTI (like you gotta pee but you hold it because you don't want to ruin the moment) but not sure if that is medically sound or an old wives tail. Good luck

Hi. I'm 14 years old and I'm so scared right now! Lately. After my period I've been getting these red bumps. Not many maybe two on my vagina. They are somtimes itchy sometimes sore and when I google this up it comes out to stds and herpes. I'm not sexually active and my mother never had any of these diseases! I'm scared because it's also talked about cancer. The bump is only the size of a pea. Maybe slightly bigger and it's red. Someone 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 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 not sure if this is what you have but it could be a clogged gland. Research BARTHOLIN'S GLAND. If this gets clogged it sort of feels like a deep pimple, but do NOT try to pop it. Soak in a warm bath as often as you can and keep verry clean down there. I had this once and it was verry uncomfortable. But I do suggest you talk to your mom. All girls have had female problems at some point. Even moms, and I bet she will understand. The only way to make sure you are healthy is to see a dr. -hugs

A small section of skin on my vagina has turned black. My boyfriend told me yesterday & has said it was been there about 3 weeks, I have looked myself & don't have a clue. I have an appointment at the gynaecologist on 11th August, I am just wondering if I should leave it that long? Thanks x





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'm 33 and I have what looks like little blood lumps like when u catch ur finger or something in a zip on my vagina. There is lots of them and they appeared when I was younger. I'm very conscious of them as some of them are raised and hard. It's very hard to describe them but they are very ugly looking. I've been tested and I've no stds, even the nurse at my local doctor didn't know what they were, 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 have hard white lumps in my vulva and have just noticed a huge cluster at the entrance to my vagina. I did go to the GP who was very unhelpful and just said to ignore them. They dont hurt but I have managed to get one or two out and they contain a hard white "seed" like core. This is so embarrassing and I am scared that my sexual partner will notice. There must be a reason for them and a cure? I just want them to go away but it seems they are getting worse





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 the exact same thing and im only 16. I went to the doctor about it and he said theres nothing important and he took a swab test and some blood tests and said i was fine. Ive had it for a year but doesnt go away. However i only have 1 white hard spot and i tried to remove it but the skin ontop hurts. If you hear anything about yours please let me know by email.

Hi, I'm 14 and I have a lump on my left labia. I didn't even notice it until I moved my left leg upwards then bam! Sharp pain took in. I grabbed a mirror and I saw that there is a lump. It only hurts but it is not itchy. I can't sit properly nor cross my legs. What should I do? I'm scarred.





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

Why are the insides of my labia very white in appearance.





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 im trix 38 yrs old. since college i found this lumps on my labia majora on the upper part. it doesnt hurt. it looks like a pimple.. is this a serious one? thank u





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 labia minora are not tha same size left one is bigger and also are slightly bigger than i want them really want to chnage this please help and they are also very dark brown in coliur wjen my skin colour is light olive colour





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





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. Vaginal Dryness

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

  8. Body Check: Moles

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

  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. Constipation

    In Conditions - Constipation is extremely common and can affect a broad range of ag…


Be On Embarrassing Bodies

The clinic is opening again for a new series.
Apply for Embarrassing Bodies >

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