Vulva Health

The outside of the female genital area is called the vulva. Because some changes in the vulva may be an early sign of cancer, you should examine it regularly, just as you should do with your breasts and skin.

Each month, look for the following:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Dark or light spots
  • Blisters
  • Bumps
  • Any other changes

Symptoms of vulvar problems include itching, bleeding, burning, and discomfort. Among the common medical conditions associated with vulvar problems are yeast infections, contact dermatitis, sexually transmitted diseases (STDS), vulvar dystrophy (abnormal skin grow), and pre-cancer (vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia), which can turn into invasive cancer.

Definitions

Clitoris: An organ that is located near the opening to the vagina and is a source of female sexual excitement.
Labia Majora: The outer folds of tissue – or lips – of the opening of the vagina.
Labia Minora: The inner folds of tissue – or lips – of the opening of the vagina. Perineum: The area between the vagina and the anus.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Diseases that are spread by sexual contact, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts, herpes, syphilis, and HIV.
Urethra: A tube-like structure through which urine flows from the bladder to the outside of the body.
Vagina: A tube-like structure surrounded by muscles leading from the uterus to the outside of the body.
Vestibule: The space within the labia minora into which the vagina and urethra open.
Vulva: The external female genital area.

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