We’re all taught to check our breasts regularly, but after a conversation with friends I was surprised that no one is really checking their own bits. I suppose it may be because no one really tells you where to check. Often the whole genital area is referred to as the vagina, when in fact this is the internal organ. The vulva is where you want to be looking; this is the outer & inner lips, the clitoris, and the Bartholin’s glands - these secrete fluids which are used as lubricant.
Now let’s get that mirror out and have a good ol nosey around - heres what to look out for. Our good friends at Nyssa made a mirror that makes this even easier!
Some bumps & lumps can go away on their own, and sometimes they may need an antibiotic or further medical attention. Ultimately, if you feel or see anything that worries you, the best course of action is to speak to your doctor asap, who can prescribe the correct medication or treatment, or can put your mind to rest if it’s nothing at all.
Vulvar/Bartholin cysts - we previously mentioned those Bartholin’s glands as the party members who make lubricant, you most likely can’t see them, but lets just say, the party doesn’t happen without them. If the glands become clogged (by no fault of your own, sometimes these things just happen) they can form cysts (a small, hard lump). They usually aren’t painful, if they are it may be due to an infection. They usually go away by themselves, however if a cyst doesn’t sort itself out in a month or two - a doctor can drain it for you. Happy days!
Ingrown hair - unfortunately there are no hair removal techniques which can eradicate the risk of ingrown hairs, I’ve done the leg work on this one! These can sometimes cause a round, painful, itchy bump to form. These may also fill with pus and cause the skin around the bump to go darker. It can be tempting to deal with this yourself; however this can lead to further complications, so mosey on down to your doctor instead.
Genital warts - these are caused by a HPV infection, and are spread by vaginal, anal or oral sex. The symptoms are mild and so often you may not release you have it. Some symptoms are; skin coloured bumps or your vulva, anus or in vagina, and can be coupled with an itching or burning sensation. Again, there are a number of treatments a doctor or nurse can prescribe for this, so don’t let embarrassment put you off making that appointment!