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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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Comments and Questions

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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.

I am 18 year old , when i was 11 year old i saw small lesion on my penis and these is still present on my penis it is on a small portion and these are very small. When i press this white puss release like a face pimple . I also check me from a doctor , and he says it is not a disease.





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I'm 15 and I'm scared my labia is too big. Can I make it smaller surgically or non-surgically ?? Any help would be great





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Im 14 and I recently found a lump on my vulva. Its really painful to touch or to try and squeeze and I dont know what to do about it. Can anyone help?





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I'm embarrased with my vagina it is so black and underneath to I'm so embarrased because I don't feel comfortable with my body





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Hi, I'am 34 my vulva minora got swollen and after about 8 months I felt some itches and yellowish discharges on my pants. The tips look rough like a table knife, the skin (outside) looks like the back of a lemon, my clitoris has split into 2 halves. I do not feel any itches nor yellowish discharges, it is a bit difficult to explain. I have gone for testing and they all came out negative. All this happened after a year and 8 months without intersourse. The dermatologist told me there is nothing wrong with me that it is just changes that occur once in a while with our body parts. I'm worried because a feel embarrassed. Please can i have some advice.





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Hey everyone, I'm joining the discussion to talk about a painful black spot inside my vagina, perhaps right in front of the corona. I noticed a pain while urinating and checked immediately for anything strange. I'm currently 18 and have never been sexually active. I also have aspergers if that assists in any ideas. We tend to also have IBS and other gastrointestinal issues for example. I used a mirror and took a look and my vaginal entrance is very open, with a dark spot of what LOOKS like old blood clotted and stuck in the folds my hymen/corona. My vagina is also very dry right now. I could not get it out, as I'm unused to inserting things into my plumbing, but I did try to get a close look. It really looked like old blood. The dark stuff may be completely unrelated to the pain, as I AM at the end of my period.





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I sometimes get soreness around my bikini area, kindve lump-like. I thought maybe I strained a muscle or something until I noticed soreness and rawness in the area between my vagina and anus and as the soreness went away I noticed my skin in that area felt lumpy like small raised skin clusters





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I am 44 years old and birthed two children vaginally, who are now aged 8 and 5. I seem to have some "new" extra skin folds around the lower part of my vaginal opening (closer to the rectum) and lately it is painful if that area experiences any friction, either through intercourse or even just wearing thong underwear (which I've been using all these years since childbirth with no problems). For example I noticed I have to almost hold myself more open for them to not get "in the way" during intercourse. I do also have some vaginal(and cervical?) prolapse and the vaginal canal goes off to an angle now, instead of more upward like pre-childbirth. I think that is a different subject, though, not related to the extra skin folds? Any information would be much appreciated.





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I have found the extra skin in the same place any ideas what caused it or any helpful tips

I'm 17 how can I check myself for vulva cancer





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I'm 17 how can I check myself for vulva cancer





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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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