Vaginal Self-Examination (VSE)
A vaginal self-examination is a way for a woman to look at her
vagina. A vaginal self-examination may help you better
understand your body, the changes that take place during the
menstrual cycle, and any problems that may need
The best time to do a vaginal self-examination is between your
menstrual periods. A vaginal self-examination should not replace a regular
pelvic examination by your doctor.
Why It Is Done
A vaginal self-examination can be done to:
- Help you learn more about your body and what is
normal for you.
- Help you check for vaginal sores, abnormal
discharge, or other problems, such as
How To Prepare
To do a vaginal self-examination, you will need:
- A small flashlight or good lighting in the
- A handheld mirror with a long handle.
Choose a time when you are not having a menstrual period. Do not
use vaginal creams or douches before doing the examination.
How It Is Done
Take off your clothes below the waist. Have the mirror and
flashlight where you can easily reach them. Wash your hands. Sit on the floor,
a bed, or a couch and support your back with pillows. Bend your knees, place
your feet near your bottom, lean slightly backward, and spread your knees apart
so your genital area can be seen.
Hold or prop the mirror in front of your genital area. Look at
- Outer and inner fleshy lips of the vulva
(called the labia).
- Bump of tissue covered by a hood of skin at the
front of the labia (called the clitoris). The clitoris is the main area that is
stimulated during sexual activity.
- Opening of the
urethra where urine drains from your
- Opening of the vagina.
- Opening of the
Have the light reflect off the mirror so you can clearly see your
vaginal area. Then use your fingers to spread apart the vaginal lips. Adjust
the light and mirror until you can see into the vagina. You should be able to
see the reddish pink walls of the vagina, which have small folds or ridges
known as rugae.
Look at your vaginal discharge. A normal discharge usually is clear
to cloudy white, smells slightly acidic (like vinegar), may be thick or thin,
and changes a little throughout the menstrual cycle. To learn more, see