Genital Self Examination
What is a Genital Self Examination?[edit | edit source]
A genital self exam is used to check for signs and symptoms that might indicate the presence of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or to find any abnormalities that could indicate a more serious problem such as cancer.
A genital self exam, sometimes referred to as a GSE, is very important for both men and women to perform on themselves. Once a month is the time to physically explore an area of your body that is often overlooked, and to be on the hunt for anything that appears out of the ordinary. It is very important to become familiar with your genitalia upon reaching puberty in order to detect the difference between what is normal and what is not. This provides a baseline to compare future exams to so you can notice if something has changed. A genital self exam is used to check for signs and symptoms that might indicate the presence of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or to find any abnormalities that could indicate a more serious problem such as cancer. Quite often a person will find nothing at all, but it is always best to confirm regularities rather than let something go untreated because it was not noticed earlier.
Why is a GSE Important?[edit | edit source]
Genital self exams are extremely important because they are what can help determine if a sexually transmitted infection or abnormality is present.
Unfortunately, there are many STIs that go unnoticed and thus are not treated because the person does not realize they have one.Often there are many STI’s that have similar symptoms to one another which are easily confused amongst each other as well as other diseases, and other STI’s that go away on their own, but will always come back if they go untreated. It is important to know this because if you were ever to find something, it should be brought to the attention of a health professional so that you can be tested before spreading it to anyone else.
Genital self exams are significant to a person’s health and well being because they help to detect and prevent further complications that could arise with the contraction of an STI. Without treatment, long term effects of STI’s can include infertility, heart disease, neurological damage, as well as physical scarring and damage to internal and external genitalia. The sooner something irregular is found and treated, the shorter the recovery period and the lesser the chance of suffering from serious health complications.
Who should perform Genital Self Exams?[edit | edit source]
As mentioned earlier, it is important for each individual to become familiar with their body around the time that they begin sexual maturation. More specifically both men and women should begin performing these self exams around the age of fifteen and should continue throughout the duration of their life.
How Often and When Should a GSE be Performed?[edit | edit source]
It is recommended to perform a GSE at least once a month and the best times to complete it would be after a warm bath or shower which relaxes both the mind and muscles making the exam easier.
What You Are Looking For[edit | edit source]
When doing a self genital exam it is important to look for things that are new, or were not there before. You want to look for things such as sores, discharge, and other problems such as genital warts.
Females- should be looking for regular discharge which is usually a cloudy white color. This should normally smell almost like vinegar. Depending on where in the menstrual cycle a female may be the thickness may differ. During the exam there should be no pain. If there is this could indicate an infection. If this discharge smells or looks different it could indicate a problem which should be checked out by a doctor. Also if you find anything that you feel isn’t supposed to be there or hurts, you should get checked.
Males- should be looking for bumps and lumps on or in the testes. Also anything abnormal or things you notice that are different should be looked at by a doctor. Testes that have not descended or “dropped” shortly after birth can be at risk for testicular cancer. Also look for swelling or shrinking of either the penis or testes. This can be an indicator of a problem along with any other visible differences. Regardless of age self genital examinations should be done regularly for boys or men. Lumps found in the testes which could be testicular cancer are usually painless and swollen.
Prevention[edit | edit source]
By doing these exams on themselves it can prevent passing an STD onto your partner if you notice it soon enough. In order to prevent this from happening you must educate yourself on how the symptoms of an STD my feel and look.
As teens grow up they go through changes with their bodies which also can cause them to be unsure what is happening with their body and if it is normal or not. It is important for teens who are having sex to make themselves aware of what is out there and also educate themselves with what is normal changes for their body to go through and things to keep on the lookout for that are not. Self genital exams can help find a problem if there is one.
It is important to remember that not all STDs turn up right away, some can take up to six months to turn up in the blood.
Male- Self genital exams can prevent testicular cancer or catch it before it is too late. Catching testicular cancer at its earliest stage is the easiest and most curable case. Self genital exams can also prevent STD’s as well for males.
Female- Self genital exams and help woman prevent from STD’s as well. It is harder to predict cancers for females though such as cervical because it is within the body. It is important to get your annual checkups by your doctors to prevent such things.
What to do if you find something after doing a genital self exam[edit | edit source]
If one finds something abnormal when doing a self-exam, an appointment should be made with one’s physician immediately. A private doctor is sufficient, as well as a family planning clinic. However, one should know that when dealing with a family planning clinic, the fee one is asked to pay may be different depending on the client’s income. One should make sure to check about the payment options before visiting.
With men, if a lump or swelling of the testicle, or even a pain in the lower stomach or groin area a health care provider should be contacted immediately to get a check for testicular cancer. If found soon enough, the cancer can be cured when dealt with properly.
Easy Tips to Remember[edit | edit source]
- - Squat, stand, or sit over a mirror
- - Look for white, reddish areas around the vulva as well as any new moles or freckles.
- - Any sudden changes in the color or appearance of the skin should be taken seriously.
- - Slight changes in color around the vulva will occur depending on exercise, age.
- - Check for sores, small cuts, or lesions as well as any lumps.
- - Look for a change in color or appearance with the scrotum.
- - Use the middle and index fingers under the testicle with a thumb on top.
- - Roll the testicle between the fingers, noting any lumps, firmness of the testicle or painful areas.
The entire genital area should be checked including the penis, upper thigh area, and any other area near the genitals.
- - In this case one should look for lumps or sores anywhere around these areas.
- - Check for any involuntary discharge from the tip of the penis.
Risks of Performing an Exam[edit | edit source]
The only risk to doing a genital self-exam is if a male squeezes the testicles too hard when checking them. This will result in a subtle pain in the abdomen.
References[edit | edit source]
- "Family Planning." Family Planning Home Page. (accessed 10 Feb. 2009)
- "Genital Self-Examination (GSE)." The University of Arizona Campus Health Service Home. (accessed 10 Feb. 2009)
- Indian Womens Health. (accessed 10 Feb. 2009)
- "Male Genital Examination Procedure." Office of Medical Informatics - College of Medicine - University of Florida. (accessed 10 Feb. 2009)
- "Male Self-Examinations." WSO: Wingle Shabbify Oidioid. (accessed 10 Feb. 2009)
- "An Ounce of Prevention... How to Do Self-Exams." Columbia University in the City of New York. (accessed 10 Feb. 2009)
- "Testicular Examination and Testicular Self-Examination (TSE)." WebMD Men's Health Center - Find men's health topics and information. (accessed 10 Feb. 2009)
- "UCSB's SexInfo - Men's Genital Self-Exam." UCSB Sociology Department. (accessed 10 Feb. 2009)
- Urinary & Genital Disorders. Discover Health & Beauty. (accessed 10 Feb. 2009)
- "Vaginal Self-Examination (VSE)." Women's Health Center: Information on Women's Wellness, Nutrition, Fitness, Intimate Questions, and Weight Loss. (accessed 10 Feb. 2009)
- Vulval Pain Society - Home. (accessed 10 Feb. 2009)
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