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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 have a small dark spot, not a bump, on thebinner side of my vagina lip. It never bothered me and its been there for awhike now. Aany clues to what this could be?





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I am 17 years old with no sexual activity but I was looking at my vagina a couple weeks ago and I noticed a dark spot on the inside lips of it or I think it's called the labia.





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So, I've been struggling with my boyfriend to have sex we can get it an inch or two in but struggle any further and I feel uncomfortable. I took a mirror to investigate and noticed flaps in the vagina entrance I'm not sure if these are Hymenal tags or maybe I've prolapsed (I have none of the symptoms I don't think, but maybe it could be symptomless?). Fingers and tampons are fine and I had previously had slept with someone once a year ago without problem. Is it normal to not be able to see into the vagina? Should I be worried about these flaps? Could it be psychological?





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Hey I've found a lump inside my vagina it's fairly big and can be moved it kinda of feels like I'm growing a penis it hurts when it's touched it's not a std it hurts when I have sex too





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You should see a gynecologists and have them take a look if you haven't already by now. This is important

Hi, I really need your help as I am struggling to find any information on the internet. Towards the left side of my clitoris its began too look bruised also when I pull my vagina up from the top you can almost see these little white milk spots, I'm getting no discomfort or anything like that I just really want to know if you know what it could be. Sorry for the information but I noticed this after I received oral sex from a male, could it just be bruising or could you tell me what it could be





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Have you been checked for lichen sclerosus? Mine started that way. Other symptoms took a few weeks to kick in though.

I have whitish (looks water logged) extra skin between the vagina and the anal. can you tell me what this is?





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Hi... i'm 16 um I have a lump in my vagina... a bit back... it feels like a pointed lump... and it comes and goes.. sometimes when it's gone i feel some smaller bumps around where it was... it hasn't been there for a bit... i'm not sure maybe it's my anti depressants I take... cause I hadn't taken it in a while and I took it today and that was there... or I don't know...??





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I've recently found a small pea size hard lump on my right vagina lip It doesn't hurt too touch. It doesn't move either. I've checked and it looks nothing like gentian warts or a cyst etc etc.. I've tried popping it but nothing came out apart from blood as there's a nothing but another layer of skin underneath. The lump goes underneath my labia aswell...





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I have whitish greyish bumps or a growth just at the opening of my vagina hole i dont know what It could be, It hurts when I pee and when I go to a number 2 sometimes you see blood on tissue.





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Just where he entrance to my vagina is , I have like a little thin bit of skin going from one side of the vagina to the other, think everyone has this. However on it are some while bubbly substance. No sure what it is and really freak if our about it. It just looks like an extra bit of skin but white. Someone please help me :(





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Sounds like a genital wart if its like skin & white... does it hurt to touch/ itchy.


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