If you were tasked with describing your vulva, could you? Would you be able to describe its appearance, its smell, or any specific details? If your answer is no, then it’s about time that you get to #KnowYourVulva!
From the 5th November until 11th November, Kegel8 are taking part in Vulva Cancer Awareness Week.
Around 80% of vulval cancers are diagnosed in women who are over 60; however, an increasing amount of women are being diagnosed at a younger age.
The campaign aims to get women talking about the vulva, raising awareness of gynaecological cancer of the vulva which often features much less than other female cancers. At least 3 women are diagnosed with vulval cancer each day in the UK.
Lloyd’s Pharmacy are also showing their support by displaying the campaign posters and leaflets within their stores during the period.
Tough Cookies Education, a sex and relationships education company, have also designed a free downloadable lesson plan to be used in youth centres, health clinics, schools, and by parents in order to teach younger women about the vulva.
On 9th November, the campaign encourages followers to ‘Go Purple’ to show their support for Vulva Cancer awareness; a movement in which Kegel8 will be participating.
But, What is Vulval Cancer?
Cancer of the vulva involves a woman’s external genitals; this includes the lips surrounding the vagina, the clitoris, and the Bartholin’s glands.
What are the Symptoms of Vulval Cancer?
Some of the symptoms you may experience with vulval cancer include:
- Pain, tenderness, or soreness in the vulva
- A persistent itch in the vulva
- A lump or growth on the vulva
- Raised and thickened patches of skin
- Open sores on the vulva
- Bleeding from the vulva or blood-stained vaginal discharge
- A mole on the vulva that changes shape or colour
- A burning pain when passing urine
What Causes Vulval Cancer?
Some of the main causes of vulval cancer include:
- Older age
- Abnormal cells in the vulva that are at risk of turning cancerous
- Persistent infection with certain strains of HPV
- Skin conditions that affect the vulva, e.g. lichen sclerosus
Can Vulval Cancer be Prevented?
Nearly 70% of all vulval cancer cases are preventable in the UK.
Although you cannot prevent the risk of vulval cancer completely, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk. These include:
- Getting to #KnowYourVulva – Being familiar with your vulva, its shape, its smell, can help you recognise when something has changed. Consultant Gynaecologist, Tania Adib, has noted that "We're not taught to feel comfortable with our sexual organs and our intimate health. We're all really embarrassed about what goes on down there. Have a look and get to know what your vulva looks like, and then you'll know if something has changed."
- Practice safe sex – Using a condom during intercourse can help protect against HPV.
- Attend cervical screenings – Your cervical screening appointments can help detect pre-cancerous conditions.
- Stop smoking
Start getting to #KnowYourVulva today!
Any donations for Vulva Cancer awareness can be made to The Eve Appeal.
 Cancer Research UK (2015) Vulval Cancer Statistics [online]. Cancer Research UK [viewed 30/10/2018]. Available from https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/vulval-cancer
 The Eve Appeal (2018) Vulval Cancer [online]. The Eve Appeal [viewed 30/10/2018]. Available from https://eveappeal.org.uk/gynaecological-cancers/vulvar-cancer/
 Press Mum (2018) VULVA CANCER UK AWARENESS LAUNCH NEW CAMPAIGN #KNOWYOURVULVA [online]. Press Mum [viewed 30/10/2018]. Available from https://pressmum.co.uk/2018/10/27/vulva-cancer-uk-awareness-launch-new-campaign-knowyourvulva/
 NHS (2018) Vulval Cancer [online]. NHS [viewed 30/10/2018]. Available from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vulval-cancer/
 Good Sex Bad Sex (2018) Vaginas [Podcast]. Available from https://soundcloud.com/goodsexbadsex