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SELF-EXAMINATION OF THE EXTERNAL FEMALE GENITALIA

Genital Self Examination (GSE) is an easy exam that you can do to check for the signs and symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STD's). Anyone who has ever been sexually active is potentially at risk for contacting one or more STD's. The more sexual partners you have, the greater the risk. Even one partner carries a risk if he or she has been sexually active with other partners.

STD's, if left untreated, can cause serious health problems including: infertility, genital tract cancers, pregnancy loss, newborn illness, heart disease, brain damage, and even death. STD's may be passed from mother to baby before or during birth. STD's are serious, but treatment is available. The sooner you detect symptoms, seek diagnosis, and begin a treatment program, the less likely the disease will cause you physical harm or be spread to others.

Common STD's include:

  • Genital herpes
  • Genital warts (Human Papilloma Virus)
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Syphilis

How to Do a GSE

First of all, get to know what the normal appearance of your genitalia is. Wash your hands. Use a mirror and good light to be able to visualize your whole external genitalia area. Start by spreading the pubic hair apart. Check the labia majora, the labia minora, the clitoris, around the urethra, and the vaginal opening. (This is as far as we recommend that you look). Carefully look for any warts, bumps, sores, or blisters on the skin.

Some STD's occur in areas that are out of your view, such as in your vagina, and/or on your cervix. Therefore, if you feel that you may have come in contact with someone who has a sexually transmitted disease see your provider, even if you don't discover any signs or symptoms during your genital self-examination.

In addition, be alert to other symptoms associated with STD's. Some STD's can cause a vaginal discharge different from your normal. It may be thicker, yellow or green, or have an odor. Other signs and/or symptoms to watch out for include pain or a burning sensation when urinating, pain in your lower abdomen area, bleeding between menstrual cycles, or an itchy rash around the vagina.

If you notice any of the signs or symptoms described, you may or may not have a sexually transmitted disease. The only way to know for sure is to see your physician for a diagnosis. Please be aware that the symptoms of STDS may not appear for weeks, or even months after the sexual encounter. So if you're sexually active, be sure to see your physician and have an examination on a regular basis. Between checkups, use the GSE frequently to check yourself for early warning signs. If you suspect anything, don't hesitate to call us. 

 

 

 

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