Why You Should Stop What You're Doing & Look At Your Vulva

Photographed by Ruby Woodhouse.
Have you ever taken a look at your vulva? Like really looked at it? For many people with vulvas, the answer is a resounding no. "It's actually not uncommon for me to have a patient in their 60s come in to my office having never looked at their vulvas before," says Sheila Loanzon, DO, a board-certified Ob/Gyn and author of the book Yes, I Have Herpes. "They'll come in describing pain, and I'll ask if they've looked down there, and they'll give a look like it's gross."
Yes, it can be tricky for vulva-havers to actually get a good look, but there can also be shame and stigma attached to getting intimate with their own anatomy. "Are there any other body parts we haven't looked at? The answer to that question is typically no," says Kelley Johnson, PhD, a clinical sexologist based in North Carolina. "Looking at it and embracing it empowers us as sexual beings"
If you're ready to take a look, start out slow and use your (clean) fingers to explore first, says Juliet Allen, a sexologist based in Australia. "It doesn’t have to be touch for pleasure," she says. "It can be touch just to get to know what it feels like down there." Then, grab a hand mirror, take a peek, and make sure to check back often, noting any changes in the skin or new bumps that may emerge. But, if you still need more convincing, here are three reasons why you might want to make an effort to look at your vulva.