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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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Hi. I have this weird white lump right at the opening of my vagina, which I just felt last night because it suddenly became itchy. I have no problems peeing nor any burning senstation. It's just itchy, and now it's swelling a bit because of scratching. I tried to see what it was and was surprised to see a group of tiny little white bumps at the opening of my vagina, which wasn't there few days ago. I don't have multiple sex partners and always use condoms with my partner. Could anyone tell me what this is and how to get rid of it? The itch is really uncomfortable. Thank you.





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I'm 14 years old and have had a lump on my mons pubis for years! It doesn't hurt and it's not swollen. It's soft and can be pushed down and doesn't reappear for a few hours. There is no colour or redness. Its on my right side and comes up 1 cm or so. It doesn't bother me but it's quite annoying not knowing what it is. Any ideas?





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the skin in front of my vagina is huge, it looks like I have a huge testicle





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Hi for about 5years now I have to wash my labia daily otherwise it's smells quite strongly. Can't explain what it smells like but it's not fishy or anything like that. It's almost like I have excessive sweating between my labias. I've had swabs and they have come back clear so I know it's not an infection.





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I have loads of little lumps on the outside of my vulva (mostly the creases) there a little pinking colour an look a little rash. My nana was known for cervial cancer?i dont know i have that. Im worried. But i have been sexually active and really need an anwser before things get worser been there for maybe weeks-months. Just getting noticable x





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The video isn't coming up but I have been having the white stuff on my vulva





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Hi im 18 my virgina been itching alot and been having white puffy things come out it's very irritating i can't sleep or use the bathroom due to itching it burns too. It went away then came back its been 3weeks i am sexually active but haven't had sex since this issue. I really need your help what should i do





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I am 15 and nearly a year now I've had a bone type thing In the inside of my right labia minora, some days it will stay out the way but most days it causes me problems and is really painful. I've looked at it and felt it and it really is a bone like thing about 2 2-3long , and isn't going anywhere. And also my vagina is always wet with discharge and can be quite itchy on a small basis. Can you please help!?





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I'm 15 I think I have a bacterial infection, I'm a virgin, idk if it could be a yeast infection either. I'm on my period right now, but I stuck my finger in there and out came a little blood mixed with this white creamy stuff. What could it be? Every once and awhile I have a burning sensation after I pee too, I want this to go away immediately.





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Sounds like Chlamydia,very common, go to your GP for antibiotics will fix it, but if left it can cause sterility.

I'm 15 I think I have a bacterial infection, I'm a virgin, idk if it could be a yeast infection either. I'm on my period right now, but I stuck my finger in there and out came a little blood mixed with this white creamy stuff. What could it be? Every once and awhile I have a burning sensation after I pee too, I want this to go away immediately.





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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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