At the beginning of 2018, a woman named Annik Archambault became a viral sensation when her love letter to her vagina hit the internet. Annik recently underwent surgery for vulvar cancer, which removed part of her labia to get rid of the cancerous cells.
This traumatic event drove Annik to write an incredibly heartfelt letter to her vagina, which has not only moved thousands of women across the world but has also started a very important conversation.
Show Your Love: Look For Signs Of Trouble
Annik’s letter to her vagina is very heartfelt and upsetting. It has taught many women the importance of taking care of their own body.
As Annik says herself, her situation was made worse by the fact that she wasn’t really taking care of herself. Luckily, when she did notice something amiss with her vagina, she acted quickly and was able to be saved.
However, thanks to her vulnerability many women across the world are now taking better care of their vaginas and preventing cancer from taking them. As a woman, there are two major takeaways from Annik’s story:
- Get regular pelvic exams so you can keep track of your vaginal health
- If you find a problem, do not waste time in getting treatment, sometimes the simple purchase and use of V-tight gel can help!. Catching anything in the early stages gives you a better chance of treating it
What Is Vulvar Cancer?: The Symptoms
Vulvar cancer can be quite damaging and is something all women should look out for. The following symptoms may not be a sign of vulvar cancer, but if you are experiencing any of these, then you should make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.
- Itching in the vagina that does not go away
- A lump, collection of lumps or open sore on the vulva or in the vagina
- Tenderness and/or pain in the labia and surrounding areas
- Bleeding or spotting when you are not on your period
- Thicker or tougher labia
- Pain during and after sex
These could be signs that something is wrong with your health, so you shouldn’t ignore them. If you do feel as though something is wrong with your vagina or vulva, make sure you speak to a medical professional and get checked out.
Possible Causes of Vulvar Cancer
Any kind of cancer is caused by a mutation in the DNA of cells. Exactly what causes this mutation is well known in some cases (like smoking and lung cancer) but remains a mystery in others.
The possible causes of vulvar cancer are still yet unknown, although some research suggests that there may be a connection to human papillomavirus (HPV). This is not a hard and fast rule, and it certainly does not apply to everyone.
More research needs to be done to determine what the causes of vulvar cancer are.
Types Of Vulvar Cancer
There are two types of vulvar cancer that arises from two different kinds of cells. The type of vulvar cancer will be determined by your doctor if this is necessary.
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva
This type of cancer starts in the cells that line the surface of the vulva. These cells are thin flat cells that are quite susceptible to mutation.
- Melanoma of the vulva
This type of vulvar cancer takes root in the cells that cause skin pigmentation. This type of cancer is less common, but still very dangerous.
Potential Risk Factors
Taking care of your vagina requires you to understand the risk factors that you or your lifestyle pose to getting vulvar cancer. These risk factors are things that may increase your chances of getting vulvar cancer.
- – Age
The risk of vulvar cancer increases with every year you get older. The average age of diagnosis for this type of cancer is 65 years old. This does not mean that you cannot contract vulvar cancer when you are in your twenties, thirties or forties, it simply means that the risk increases as you get older.
- – Smoking
Smoking is known to increase the risk of virtually every type of cancer that humans can contract. If you want to take care of your vagina and improve your overall health, then you should quit smoking.
- – HPV
HPV is an STD that is believed to increase the risk of developing several types of cancer, including cervical and vulvar cancer. Many people can carry the HPV virus for most of their adult lives without even knowing it, and many of these may pass it on to other people. There is no direct link between HPV and vulvar cancer, but if you do have the STD, then you should get pelvic exams more often.
- – Weak Immune System
A weak immune system can be caused by a variety of different triggers, including medicines that are given to those who have undergone organ transplants. Stress can also have a huge effect on the immune system, which is why we often get sick when we are busy. Fatigue and conditions like HIV can also weaken the immune system.
- – Other Precancerous Conditions
VIN, or Vulvar Intraepithelial Neoplasia, is a precancerous condition that is common in women and has been proven to increase one’s risk of vulvar cancer. Like HPV, there is no direct link between VIN and vulvar cancer, but if you do suffer from this condition, then you should arrange frequent pelvic exams.
Nothing can fully prevent cancer from developing in your body, but here are some ways that you can improve your health and reduce the risk of vulvar cancer.
- Use condoms during sex to reduce the risk of contracting HPV
- Get vaccinated against HPV and other STDs
- Quit smoking to reduce your risk of a range of cancers
- Treat vaginal infections quickly, by visiting a doctor and using certain products like V-Tight Gel. V-Tight gel contains witch hazel and other plant extracts that can fight infections and keep your vagina healthy.