When was the last time you took a look down there? At some point, you may have noticed dark spots forming on your vagina, labia, or vulva and wondered what they are. But should you be concerned and scheduling a doctor’s appointment right away, or are they just a normal part of getting older? Here’s what you need to know before you hit the panic button — or ignore what could be a sign of a potential health problem.
Why could there be dark spots on your vagina?
Dark spots may appear for any number of reasons, so it’s important not to worry if you start to notice that something’s different down there. First and foremost, many women see a number of differences in and around their labias, vulvas, and vaginas as they age. This could include the color, texture, or shape of those areas changing over time, often due to variations in hormones, like estrogen. Menopause in particular is a time when the body’s hormonal chemistry is completely altered, so you may start to see some shifts around then.
However, those dark spots could also be a symptom of a larger health issue. Sometimes women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormone imbalance that can lead to painful, irregular periods and other issues, may see darker regions of the groin area. A vulva-related cancer also isn’t out of the question, but it’s going to require closer inspection by your doctor to confirm if that may be the cause.
When should you see a doctor?
Often dark spots on your vagina aren’t a cause for concern, but you may want to ask your primary care physician or your gynecologist to take a look the next time you’re already visiting, especially if you have a hormone-related health condition or you’re experiencing more severe symptoms from menopause or perimenopause.
You should schedule a visit sooner, however, if you notice that the dark spots are changing quickly or are accompanied by other moles, lesions, or markings in the area, such as a growing, discolored, and/or asymmetrical lump. Other symptoms, such as vaginal dryness, could also be related.
Overall, the best thing you can do is do regular self-checks of the area yourself and document what you’re seeing. The more you know now, the easier it is for your doctor to help you if there may be something worth a closer look.