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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 grand daughter that just showed me a protrusion from her vagina





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I have had a lump in my fanny for 2 years now it don't hurt or anything I jut wanted to know what it could be?? Help





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Hello , I come on the 15th of March I bleed for 4days, iv ovulated as iv had stretchy egg white discharge, I had cramping on the 29th & on the 30th I had the light pinky bleed now im dry and nothink since, im jue on my next period on 12april , could this be an implementation bleed ?





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Hi, im jue my next period in 10-12days time, but im experiencing light pink bleeding also adomnal craps could I be pregnant?





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Hi, there is a possibility you could be pregnant. The pink bleeding can be your uterus settling down and its just the excess fluid which can be released in the early stages of pregnancy. If however you are having abdominal pain its worth getting checked out early. Do you have any shoulder pain? Are the pains in your abdomen there all the time? Are they severe? If yes then go to Dr sooner rather than later as if you were pregnant that could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy. It is more than likely to be nothing. But better off to be on the safe side.

I've had white stuff in my knickers after a couple or days of sex and wonder if I could be pregnant although I haven't been sick but getting wind

Hi I am a 29 year old female and have been trying to conceive with partner for 2 year but for the last year I have been in pain and bleeding during and after intercorse please help with my symptoms thanks





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If you are in pain and bleeding after you have intercourse then you need to make an appointment to see your GP. It may be nothing, or it could be anything from endometriosis to cancer. Obviously cancer is a drastic thing to say, but if you diagnose it early, the better the outcome. I have endometriosis and I know what you're experiencing sounds a lot like those symptoms, infertility, painful intercourse, bleeding as well as many others. If it is, the drs can help you.

Hi i have recently had a miscarriage my 2nd in 3months after two days of bleefing finally stopping i have found a lump inside virgina on Wall slighty to back/right side. I am still abit swollen inside my canal there was no checks at gp appt just was told i had a very early miscarriage. I did have some clots although do you think i may have some more although may have gotten stuck Any information would be great before i make another appt would it have been etopic pregnency rsther than a natural miscarriage Many Thanks





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Hi, an ectopic pregnancy is where the fertilised egg embeds itself in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. This is a medical emergency. Its unlikely you had one of those as it would need surgery to remove the tube. It sounds like a normal miscarriage. If the bleeding has stopped and you can feel a lump inside yourself it is important to make an appointment with your gp to ensure it is nothing to worry about. At the same time it may be worth getting checked out for the HPV. This along with other sti's can cause many problems. The sooner you get checked out the sooner you will either have your mind put at ease. Hope that helps.

When my husbend use Delay condoms my vagina gets ichi and not confotiable. I always like his natural pens inside me but he comes in 2 mints. What should I do





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Hi, it may be you are sensitive to the condom or its main ingredient latex. There is a spray you could try. It too has the same effect as the delay condom but wont have the condom or latex. It might be worth a try.

I am looking for a doctor to treat lichen sclerosis in Austin,Texas





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Recently I've been getting a really itchy, painful vulva especially around and inside my labia. I'm already extremely self conscious about my labia and even seriously considering labiaplasty. The irritation is unbearable at times. I also haven't been getting 'wet' at all which increases the soreness. I need help and I have no clue what it is, I'm 16 so I'm still developing and I missed my period. I'm worried and embarrassed of my already unlucky downstairs!





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Im 15 and a virgin and im currently on my period but my vagina (hole area) is sore and occasionally itchy, I have no idea why? I Havent had sex but my period was 11 days late but of course I have it now but again my vagina hurts. Why?





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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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