You have the time to party out, play dress up, check your social media, watch movies. Why then do you ignore the part that deserves your utmost attention
Give up the chase, girls. I am talking about paying attention to your precious lady bits—your vagina, d-uh!
Trust me, taking out just a few minutes once in a while to make sure Ms. Oft-ignored Vayjayjay is doing okay down there. Basically, a little vaginal self-examination can take you a long way.
But first, get to know what’s to see down there
How exactly do you intend to conduct an examination when you don’t know the subject. I won’t get into nerdy details, but you’ve got to know these basic parts of your genital area.
(Disclaimer: Every woman is unique and so are her lady bits. So I am just mentioning the main characteristics of your vaginal parts for you to recognise them easily during the self-examination.)
Vulva: It is the external part of your genitalia that basically protects your sexual organs, urinary opening, vestibule and the main deal—vagina.
The outer folds of the vulva, resembling the shape of big lips that may/may not be covered with pubic hair are called labia majora (outer lips). The smaller-lips-shaped tissue folds enclosed within this region are called labia minora (inner lips). They are usually pinkish in colour and up to 2 inches wide.
Vagina: Your vagina is actually not just what’s visible to the eye. It’s actually a long, flexible, muscular tube extending from the opening (vaginal opening) and goes all the way up to the uterus.
Clitoris: You may notice a small protrusion/a hood-like structure between the outer lips and the upper part of the vagina. D-uh! You can’t not know this source of best sexual stimulation!
Finally, how about a little tête-à-tête with Ms. Vayjayjay now?
Oh! Come on! You won’t leave your house without someone to watch over, but you’re absolutely okay leaving your precious lady parts neglected? Get over the hypocrisy and get to some serious work.
All you need is a handheld mirror with a comfortably long handle, some good lighting in the room or a bright flashlight, and finally a good timing—which basically means examining your vagina when you’re not menstruating and haven’t applied any vaginal creams.
Follow these steps:
1. Next, position yourself the right way so as to conveniently say hello to Ms. Vee. As per a review journal, published by the University of Michigan Health System, the procedure involves taking off your clothes below the waist and sitting on the floor/bed/couch with pillows for back support.
2. Following this up with bending your knees and bringing your feet near your rear while spreading the knees apart. Congratulations! If you’ve followed these instructions earnestly, you will finally be able to see your vagina, so just relax your pelvis and proceed.
3. With clean, washed hands, grab that mirror and place it in a manner that the light reflects off it so you can get a clearer view of your genital area.
4. Use the same clean fingers to spread apart the vaginal lips so as to see the status in depth–literally. Needless to say, a little adjustment with the mirror and lighting for a better view could take you a long way.
What should you be expecting (or not)?
Like I mentioned earlier, all vaginas are different, so there’s no sure-short definition of a ‘healthy vagina’. However, you can watch out for the following ‘abnormalities’.
1. “Look for traces of unusual discharge, one that is foul-smelling, or greenish/yellowish in colour,” says Dr. Ritu Sethi, principal and senior consultant, obstetrics and gynecology, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon.
2. Any uncomfortable itchiness is not to be ignored either as it could be due to an infection or eczema. Eczema is a skin condition resulting in patchy, inflamed, cracked/rough skin, which is accompanied by redness and irritation. This could also be a symptom of a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
3. In fact, any sores/unusual bumps or lumps in the vaginal area too could be signs of an STD, including the human papillomavirus (HPV), an infection caused by skin contact.
4. Loveleena Nadir, a Delhi-based senior consultant, obstetrics and gynaecology, suggests checking for anything coming out of the vagina as it could be due to descent of the cervix (lower narrower portion of the uterus)/bladder mucosa (the innermost layer of the bladder)/rectal mucosa (inner lining of the rectum). It could also be due to the prolapse of the uterus. To be sure, try squatting and if you feel there’s something coming out of the vagina, be warned.
5. Additionally, she also warns against untimely/ unexpected bleeding or an excess of white, curdy discharge.
When is it time to head to a doctor?
Ladies, there happens to be a fine line between self-examination and self-proclamation as an expert. You better not cross that if you really care about yourself and your vagina.
Just so we’re clear, the idea of this self-examination is just to look for signs, which you might not notice otherwise. While this preventive step taken at regular intervals of say, once a month (at least) can work in your favour, not involving your doctor can work against you.
“The vagina is a sensitive part of our body, which requires medical intervention,” warns Sethi. And Nadir completely backs this plea and recommends rushing to the doctor if you happen to notice any of the warning signs we’ve discussed above.
Not to mention, a regular gynaecological check up in addition to channelling your inner doctor won’t hurt either. What say?