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What you need to know about a vulva biopsy:
A vulva biopsy is a procedure used to remove a small piece of tissue for testing. It may be done if you have noticed itching, swelling, changes in color, or a lump in your vulva area. Your vulva area is the external genital area. It includes the outer and inner folds of skin (labia majora and labia minora) and the clitoris. You may be asked to trim your pubic hair before your biopsy.
What happens during the biopsy:
Your vulva will be cleaned. Your healthcare provider may use a topical anesthetic before he or she gives you a shot with local anesthetic. The shot will numb the area so you will not feel pain during your biopsy. You may still feel pressure and some discomfort. Your healthcare provider will remove tissue and send it to the lab. You may need stitches in the area. Usually stitches that dissolve are used.
What happens after the biopsy:
Healthcare providers will teach you the signs and symptoms of infection. You will be able to go home. Itching, discomfort, and spotty bleeding are normal for the first days after your biopsy.
Risks of a vulva biopsy:
Rarely, you may bleed more than expected or develop an infection. The area may be discolored, or you may have bruising.
Go to the emergency department if:
In the first 3 days after your biopsy:
- You have a fever of 102°F (38.8°C) or higher.
- You have increased pain or bleeding.
Call your doctor if:
- You have a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.
- You have foul-smelling drainage from the area.
- You have increased redness or warmth in the biopsy area.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Read the labels of all other medicines you are using to see if they also contain acetaminophen, or ask your doctor or pharmacist. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly. Do not use more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) total of acetaminophen in one day.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Care for the biopsy area:
Keep the area clean and dry. When you are able to shower, wash the area with soap and warm water. Pat the area dry. Do not rub the area. Rubbing can cause bleeding and discomfort. You may be told to put a small amount of petroleum jelly on the biopsy area. It can prevent discomfort when you urinate. Do not have sex until the area is healed.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to return to get the results of your biopsy. You may also need more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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