A vulva biopsy is when a doctor takes a small sample of tissue from an abnormal area of the vulva.

What is a vulva biopsy?

A vulva biopsy is when a doctor takes a small sample of tissue from an abnormal area of the vulva. They send this to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope.

A biopsy can help to diagnose vulval cancer.

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Types of biopsy

There are two types of biopsy:

  • Excisional biopsy

    An excisional biopsy is often used for small areas. The doctor will remove the whole affected area. They may put 1 or 2 stitches in the area where they took the biopsy from.

  • Punch biopsy

    A punch biopsy is often used to take a sample from a larger area. It is done using a small instrument that takes a small core of the affected area. You do not normally need any stitches after a punch biopsy.

Having a vulva biopsy

You usually have a biopsy as an outpatient. Before the biopsy, you will have a local anaesthetic injected into the skin of your vulva to numb it. This may sting for a few seconds.

There should not be any pain when the sample of tissue is taken from your vulva, but you may feel a little discomfort.

Occasionally, if your vulval area is very painful, you may have your biopsy taken under a general anaesthetic.

After a vulva biopsy

After the biopsy, you may have some bleeding for a few days. This should gradually stop. If it gets worse or continues, tell your doctor.

You should use sanitary pads rather than tampons until the bleeding has settled. Keep the area clean by rinsing with water after every bowel movement.

You may also feel sore. Painkillers or a warm bath can help.

It will probably take about 7 to 10 days for the results of your biopsy to be ready. Waiting for your results can be a difficult time. It may help to talk to a relative or close friend.

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If you have cancer, you may be able to get a Macmillan Grant to help with the extra costs of cancer. Find out who can apply and how to access our grants.

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