A vaginal self-examination, or VSE, is something that every woman should know how to do. This will teach you how to look at any changes in your vagina and vulva to determine whether there is any problem that needs immediate attention. Through this self-examination you will learn to understand your body and how menstrual cycle can cause certain changes here and there.
You will also know if it’s time to visit your gynecologist for some immediate medical attention. However, you should remember that the self-examination cannot take the place of a regular pelvic examination done by a professional.
The recommended time to do the vaginal self-examination is when you are in between menstrual periods.
The purpose of VSE is to help you learn more about your body and determine what’s normal for it. This test will also determine whether you have vaginal sores, abnormal discharge, genital warts, and other worrisome or bothering problems.
Self Vaginal Exam Instruction
First, you get a small flashlight or go into a well lit room. Another tool you will need is a long-handle mirror. If you are using vaginal creams or douches, do not use them beforehand.
You will need to take off your clothes below the waist for the exam. Remember to wash your hands. Sit somewhere comfortable, preferably with pillows propped against your back for support. A bed or couch would be ideal. Then bend your knees and position your feet near your butt while leaning backward. Keep your knees apart so that you can have good view of your genitalia, where you will hold the mirror against you.
Through the mirror you should look for the outer and inner lips or the labia, the clitoris, and the openings of the urethra, vagina, and anus. Position the mirror in a way that you can see clearly. You can use your fingers to open up the vaginal lips to see further. There should be reddish pink walls with folds or ridges. You should also see your vaginal discharge.
The pelvic and belly muscles should be relaxed while you are doing the self-examination. Discomfort should not be felt unless there is an infection or open sore.
If your vulva does not have sores or other abnormal problems like genital warts, if your vaginal walls are reddish pink in color and has no sores, and if your discharge is normal, then your vagina is normal. Normal discharge should be clear or cloudy white and the smell will be acidic. Your menstrual cycle may affect the thickness or thinness of the discharge.
If you notice some sores or touch some rough, raised spots, and if there is redness and itching on the labia, there could be some sort of irritation. Infections such as genital herpes or STD could also be present. If your vaginal discharge has a bad odor, it could be trichomoniasis; curd-like discharge could mean you have yeast infection. All these means that there is something wrong and you should consult with your doctor immediately.