Objective: To determine the normal vulvar findings by naked eye examination and by vulvoscopy in healthy women without vulvar complaints.
Design: Observational study.
Population: Forty healthy volunteers without vulvar complaints recruited via a newspaper advertisement.
Methods: Vulvar examination, human papillomavirus (HPV) polymerase chain reaction of vulvar and cervical swabs, saline and KOH smears and vulvoscopy before and after the application of 5% acetic acid.
Main outcome measures: Prevalence of vestibular erythema, vestibular papillomatosis, HPV infection on the vulva and in the cervix and vulvoscopic findings.
Results: The mean age of the women was 37.8 years (median 38.0, range 21-56). Nine women were current smokers and 21 had previously smoked. Naked eye vulvar examination showed vestibular papillomatosis in 13 women (33%) and vestibular erythema in 17 women (43%). The touch test was positive in 9 of the 17 women (53%) with vestibular erythema. Vulvoscopy after the application of acetic acid 5% showed an acetowhite vestibule in all women. Twelve women (30%) had acetowhite lesions outside the vestibule. Six women (15%) were positive for HPV DNA. The presence of HPV DNA did not correlate with vestibular erythema or vestibular papillomatosis. There was a weak association between HPV DNA and acetowhite lesions outside the vestibule (P = 0.055, Fisher's exact test). In this group the younger women significantly more often had vestibular papillomatosis (t-statistic = 3.07; P = 0.003) and women who smoke more often had a genital HPV infection (P = 0.016, Fisher's exact test).
Conclusions: Vestibular erythema, vestibular papillomatosis, and acetowhite lesions are common in this group of healthy women without vulvar complaints.