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Vulvar Self-Exam

Experts now advise that doing a vulvar self-exam (VSE) on a regular basis, just like you do monthly breast exams, is one of the best ways to catch changes and health problems early on.

You should perform an exam between menstrual periods or choose a date each month that will help you remember it. You can view your vulva by getting into a comfortable position and holding a hand mirror. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Separate the outer lips with your fingers. A normal vulva is pink to medium-red, with no white or reddened areas. Look for any new freckles or moles and feel for any cuts, sores, lumps, or cysts.
  • Now look a little deeper inside by separating your inner lips. Look for the same signs mentioned above. Also, check the entrance to your vagina.
  • Examine your clitoris, which is under a hood or fold of skin. It should resemble a small, fleshy mound and is soft to the touch and pink in color.
  • Check outside the lips: your urethra, perineum, and anus for any soreness, irritation, itching, or signs of bleeding.

Most changes in your vulva will NOT be cancerous, but you should discuss all changes with your doctor at the earliest opportunity.

Reprinted with permission from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Women's Health Resource Center.
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