The relevance of vulval health
Vulval health is an important part of women’s health but often overlooked. Vulval problems can cause a lot of suffering. Vulval itching, soreness, discomfort or pain can cause a significant amount of stress and have an enormous impact on quality of life. Often sex life is affected and can cause a strain on intimate relationships.
Most vulval problems can be cured or greatly improved. Our dedicated vulval service offers diagnosis, treatment, and advice on long-term management of vulval problems.
A careful and detailed vulvoscopy is an examination of the vulva with a colposcope, a microscope with a strong light source, that can pick up even small changes that could otherwise be overlooked. Sometimes a camera is attached to the colposcope and will allow to take pictures, which can be viewed later. When that happens, you can often follow the examination on a screen.
A vulvoscopy can pick up inflammation of the vulva such as Lichen sclerosus or Lichen planus or changed skin which has a risk of developing into cancer (‘precancerous lesions’), for example VIN (Vulval intraepithelial neoplasia).
The doctor can also take tests for infection (bacteriological/fungal swabs) and sometimes take some tissue (biopsy) with a numbing agent (local anaesthetic. Most women do not have pain or discomfort during or after this procedure.
Patients sit on a gynaecological chair and the doctor looks at the vulva with a colposcope.
The doctor sometimes uses a weak medical vinegar, to see changes in the vulva better. Some patients report that the weak vinegar can cause a mild stinging. Usually this stops quite soon after the procedure is finished. We will make sure, that any remaining vinegar is washed away, so you will feel better soon.
The doctor will be especially careful if you have vulvar pain and may ask you about the history, the type of pain and where it is in detail to help diagnosing your pain condition accurately.
For this and other examinations, the team will ensure that you are comfortable and can stop any time, should you experience pain. Some patients with vulval pain have developed tense muscles in their pelvis that can prolong any pain. A gently examination can determine if the pelvic muscles have tensed up and a treatment plan can involve relaxation exercises, gentle massage or a referral to a dedicated physiotherapist trained in the treatment of vulvar pain.
Dr Zenner is a consultant Gynaecologist with a super-specialisation in vulval disorders. She can offer a level of care which is above and beyond that offered by most gynaecologists. If you are suffering from a vulval problem then do get in touch and she will do her best to help you.