A vaginal self-examination is a way for a woman to look at her vulva and 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 genital warts.
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
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
the topic Fertility Awareness.
How It Feels
Relax your pelvic and belly muscles as much as you can during the
vaginal self-examination. You should have little or no discomfort from the
examination, unless you have a vaginal infection or an open sore.
Normally, there are no problems from doing a vaginal
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
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
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.