Vulval examination

A vulva examination is when a specialist examines your vulva. It is used to help diagnose vulval cancer.

The vulva is an intimate and private part of the body. If you are worried or embarrassed about having this test, tell your doctor or nurse so they can give you support.

For the test, you will undress from the waist down. You then lie down on your back on a bed or examination couch. Some clinics have ones with foot or leg supports you can rest your legs up on. You will be asked to lie with your knees bent and apart.

Having a vulval examination

The doctor may use a bright light and a magnifier to examine the vulva. This helps them see the skin more clearly. They may take small samples of tissue from any areas that look abnormal. This is called a biopsy.

The doctor may also check the vagina and cervix. To do this they put an instrument called a speculum into the vagina. This holds the vagina open so they can see the cervix. It should not hurt but sometimes it can feel uncomfortable.

How a speculum works
Image: How a speculum works

The doctor may also gently put a gloved finger into the back passage (rectum) to feel for any abnormal areas there.