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

What is a vulva examination?

A vulva examination is when a specialist examines your vulva. If you have symptoms it is used to help diagnose vulval cancer.

The vulva is an intimate and private part of the body. Some women find it embarrassing or upsetting to have a vulva examination. If you feel this way, let your doctor or nurse know so they can give you support.

Having a vulva examination

Before your test, the doctor or nurse will help you position yourself on a specially designed chair or examination table. There may be special leg supports.

Having an examination

The doctor may use a bright light and a magnifier to examine your vulva. This helps them see the skin more clearly. They may take small samples of tissue (biopsies) from any areas that look unusual. You may have a local anaesthetic for this.

The doctor will also check your vagina and cervix for any abnormalities. They will use a plastic or metal instrument called a speculum. This holds the vaginal walls open.

A liquid will be dabbed on to your cervix to help show any abnormal areas more clearly. You may also have a small sample of cells taken from the cervix. The doctor may also examine your back passage (anus).

The specialist can arrange to examine you while you are under a general anaesthetic if:

  • you have narrowing of the vagina due to lichen sclerosus
  • your vulva is too sore for a full examination.

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