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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'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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hi i'm 19 and i'm still a virgin I've been experiencing itchiness in my vulva for 3 months and i see some blood in my underwear i was so scared after reading about the cancer. Can a virgin get vulva cancer .. ??





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Hi. I'm 22 and I have a weird bump on one of my labia majora. It's dark and it hurts when I rub or press it. The skin around it is red and slightly protruding. The bump is small, but the pain is noticeable. Will it go away? Should I see a doctor?





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I'm a lady of 62,I have been itching down there for a few weeks now, it is very sore ,and where I scratch it so much it bleeds ,it's swollen ,I have tryed a lot of creams,stop for a bit but not for long,I even got some trush cream,even thow I haven got thrush,had dettal baths,just dont no what to do,it's driveing me mad.and also it itch under my breast,hope u can help me.





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I had similar symptoms for 2 years until I got the diagnosis of contact dermatitis and lichen scleroses. Go see a doctor. You'll drive yourself mad on the Internet like I did. I went to 12 doctors before I got a proper diagnosis because i also had yeast infections which confused everything. Look into a dual diagnosis if 1 thing doesn't explain everything. Take a mirror and see what it looks like, it sounds like LS which is treatable and very common in post menopausal women

I keep getting thrush. I have already had it 9 times this year. Is there something wrong with me





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No I don't think so but it could be lichen sclerosis I thought I had thrush over the last 40 years and only now been told it is this, similar to thrush but you need to check with a Dr and he will prescribe a steroid cream

Hi are you going through menopause ?? as you can be prone to thrush and dry feeling inside and urine infections if you are , I'd talk to your gp if your concerned about it 9 times seems a lot .

Hi I just turned 17, about 2 weeks ago I was rubbing my clit and I think I may have cut because it started to burn, now my clit has like perfect line that seems to be surrounding it like it you pull it out, is that normal?





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Hi, i've had a soreness and itching for a few years in my vagina. I started the menopause at age 38 and I am now post menopausal at age 43. I have recently noticed that I have a small fissure inside my labia, it is sore and red and sometimes bleeds when I wipe myself. I haven't been sexually active for 6 months, but when I was, it was often painful to have intercourse. Any help or advice would be appreciated.





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Can worms live inside vulva lips?





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HI im 15 & I Recently Lost My Varginity . Once We Wer Finished With The Intercourse , I Searched Myself The Part Which Covers The Part I Pee Out Off Was Puffy And Red .. I Was Wondering Does This Suppose To Happen or Should I Be Worried .





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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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