We all know the importance of checking our breasts every month but how many of us do the same checks with our vulva?
For exactly the same reasons we check our boobs, we need to check our genitals for any changes that could need some medical attention.
There are around 1,300 cases of vulval cancer detected each year in the UK. That's around 3 a day. This actually makes it fairly rare, however Cancer Research UK estimate that around 69% of deaths from this cancer are avoidable.
But it's not just cancer you are looking for. Issues such as STI's, Lichen Sclerosus, tears and infections are all helpful to keep an eye out for. What is important is knowing what is normal for you.
How to do a vulva check
Find a private and comfortable space where you won't be disturbed for about 5 - 10 minutes
Using a mirror, squat over, sit in front of or lie down with a mirror so you can see your vulva comfortably.
Check your pubic hair area first. This includes your outer labia (the fleshy, hairy ones). You are looking for any bumps, lumps, rashes, changes in colour or moles.
Next, look at your clitoris and clitoral hood. Look for bumps, lumps and changes in colour.
Move on to your inner labia (the hairless ones). Again, looks for bumps, lumps, rashes, changes in colour or tears and cuts.
Finally, look at your perineum (the skin between the bottom of the vulva and the anus). Check for lumps, bumps, rashes, spots and tears.
Notice if your discharge has changed or if anything is unusually itchy or painful.
Sign up to my free email reminder to check your vulva every month.
If you find anything that is different from the previous month, is painful or worries you, speak to your doctor about it. Even if it seems small, it's important to get it checked out.
And don't be embarrassed about speaking to the doctor about it. This is their job and they will have seen plenty of vulvas before. There are they to help you.