What is a vaginal self examination (VSE)?
In a vaginal self examination (VSE), a woman inspects her vulva or external genitals as well as her vagina and cervix in order to help become more familiar with her body and its functions. A vaginal self examination can assist a woman to learn more about her own body and occasionally in finding abnormalities.
The following is needed for a vaginal self examination:
- A vaginal speculum,
- A mirror to check yourself,
- A small light, a flashlight or lamp,
- Clean hands (or gloves), and
- A lubricant.
During the VSE you can examine the following parts of the genitalia: The vagina, vulva, and the labia, the clitoris, the opening of the urethra, and the anus.
If you perform a VSE and notice some change, mark it down. It probably doesn’t mean that you have to rush off to the gynecologist, but you should report it at the time of your next visit. Of course if your VSE reveals something more significant, like a lesion or several of them, and you are concerned, by all means make an appointment with your doctor for an “official” exam as soon as possible.
Many women have complained that they were not fexible enough to bend down and self-examine their genitalia with a mirror. So here is a tip for doing a VSE in a more innovative interactive way:
The iVSE (Interactive Vaginal Self Examination)
- Use a webcam, the one that sits on top of your computer and that can be easily moved around (Webcams built into laptops do not work as well).
- Hold the webcam in your hand (or place it on a tripod), and then position yourself comfortably and turn the webcam on, and hold it where you want to look at, then face the computer screen.
You can also involve your husband or partner to help you with this examination. You can then see everything comfortably on the computer screen without being in a too uncomfortable position. And a webcam even takes pictures.
Just some safety precautions: Only do this in the privacy of your home. Do not do it at work. And make sure the camera does not transmit the information onto the internet. Before doing this, you may even want to unplug the internet cable or turn off the wireless to make sure it’s safe to use. If you don’t have a webcam, you can use a digital camera. The advantage of digital pictures is that in most cameras you can magnify them in order to see details.