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Vaginal Self-Examination (VSE)

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A vaginal self-examination is a way for a woman to look at her vulva and vagina. You should tell your doctor about any problems you find.

Vaginal self-examination
Normal:

The vulva does not have sores or other growths, such as genital warts.

The vaginal walls are reddish pink and have folds or ridges. No sores or growths are present.

Normal discharge is clear and thin or white and creamy. The discharge does not have a bad odor, is not bloody, and does not look like curds (cottage cheese).

Abnormal:

Sores or rough, raised spots on the skin (such as genital warts) may be present. Redness and itching of the labia may mean an irritation (from feminine products or sexual activity) or infection (such as genital herpes or another sexually transmitted infection) is present.

Vaginal discharge that has a bad odor may mean an infection such as trichomoniasis is present. Discharge that looks like curds may mean a vaginal yeast infection is present.

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to do a vaginal self-examination include:

  • You are having a menstrual period.
  • You douched or used vaginal products before the self-examination.

What To Think About

  • A vaginal self-examination should not replace a regular pelvic examination and Pap test done by your doctor. For more information, see the topics Pelvic Examination and Pap Test.

Other Works Consulted

  • Krantz KE (2007). Anatomy of the female reproductive system. In AH DeCherney et al., eds., Current Diagnosis and Treatment Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10th ed., pp. 5–55. New York: McGraw-Hill.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerFemi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last RevisedJanuary 28, 2012
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 28, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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