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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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I have three spots on the outside of my vagina just where my pants lie and they are awfully painful. I've squeezed them but this has made it more painful.. is it normal to get spots down there? I'm kinda worriee because I've never had spots like this down there before.





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Can't view the video. All I get is the text. Can't give it a high rating as I can't see it.





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I just notice I have a purple black looking lump on my labia wat could this be





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I find that when having sex with my husband I cannot feel his penis inside me. I also can not feel the muscle in that area. I have been for tests and used and electric shock to try to stimulate the area but this did not work. I tried love eggs and I can’t keep them in either, is there anything else I can do? Or will I never get the feeling back down their? Please Help





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Hi,I've had problems with itching inner labia and in the vaginal opening for three months. Was first diagnosed as yeast infection and bacterial vaginos, and got oral medication. But the itching didn't stop. Went and got checked again and the gynecologist said it looks healthy and to just wait it out. But itching still remains. Since three days I'm also experiencing pain in the uterus that comes and goes and vary in intensity. Anyone knows what this might be and how to treat it? Thanks in advance :)





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Could be a strep infection, which is itchy and causes redness, but no bumps or tash. This can be caused by bacteria from the rectum/anus coming in contact with the vulva. They can culture specifically for this. It can be treated with capsules of boric acid placed in the vagina. These have to be made by a pharmacy as I could not find them over the counter and it was not recommended that I buy empty capsules and fill myself.

I have a small growth ( size smaller than a pea)with itching . Last GYN exam Dr didn't say anything.





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im unsure what I have but I cant find anything on the site. I have a medium size lump about a size of a kidney bean on my outer labia just below my clitoris on my left side, witch has made the one side of my labia swollen. it is slightly uncomfy to walk and can feel something is not quite right. I have been going to the toilet a lot to wee, and feel very tired and keep nodding off. its red looking under the lump and under my clitoris it also looks like small blood vains within the lump. its hard but not soiled when pressed there is a sharp pain like a sharp needle, It does feel a little ichy at times but not often. i am 35 years old, sterilised with 4 children but also have not had sex for at least a year. any advise would be great, as im worried it could be something a bit more worrying.





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I have the same thing they think it's Lichen Scollioces It's the most uncomfortable thing I have ever exasperated . Only ice cubes on the area helps me.

Hi I have found a small lump on my vulva and it is itchy at times have not had sex for 8 years so don't think this is an std I belong to a small village surgery with only 1 gp and I don't get along with her very well so would prefer not to go to docs. Would a family planning clinic be able to help as I always go there for a smear test





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Can someone pleaaase help me??I've been searching on the internet but I can't find any results for my problem :( .I'm 15 year old virgin and I've noticed that one of my labias is light brown and the other one is pink...the light brown labia looks like a worm and I'm sooo scared because it looks really gross...I saw this even earlier but I thought it will be gone :(((((( .Please someone answer me I'm too shy to ask my mom or my friends :((((((((





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Please don't worry this sounds normal, everyone's is slightly different, some brown, some pink. Some are large some small most are uneven like feet one is larger than the other and a different shape from the other. Yours sounds fine, if you cannot speak to your Mom then ask to see the nurse at your surgery who will I am sure put your mind at rest.

im just wondering if its normal to have have hair on the outside of your labia minora. when i pull one lip to side there are little hairs





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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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