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Should I Be Worried About the Size of My Labia?

Your Sexual Questions ~ Answered

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Updated July 29, 2014

Should I Be Worried About the Size of My Labia?
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The short answer to this question is that the only labia that are too big are labia that are causing you physical pain. Otherwise, your labia are just fine. This, of course, is different than saying you think you’re labia are just fine, or that you like the way your labia look.

We all have parts of our bodies we don’t like or that we worry about from time to time. If you don’t like the way your labia look, I agree that you should do something about it -- but, what you do should be psychological rather than surgical. The increase in questions about labia size seems to suspiciously coincide with a small number ethically challenged plastic surgeons who are trying to make money off of others body image problems, but it would be hard to prove a causal link.

The fact is that there is no objective “ideal labia” anymore than there is an ideal hair length or nose size (although in my case, I’d have to say “ideal” would mean just a little bit smaller). While there aren’t too many major ramifications of cutting your hair, altering your labia comes with several potentially serious complications. But before we get deep into labia size, we should make sure we’re on the same page in terms of terminology since most of us are not raised learning the proper names for female genitalia.

There are two sets of labia, the outer labia and the inner labia. The outer labia are what you see if the genitals are not pulled open or if the woman is not aroused. They hide both the inner labia as well as the urethral and vaginal opening. Both sets of labia are rich with nerve endings, and both may respond to sexual stimulation. What little research we have on labia size indicates that there is a wide natural variation in the shape and size of labia.

Too Big Compared to What?

Because the inner labia are tucked away out of sight, unless you are a gynecologist or someone having sex with lots of other women, you probably haven’t seen that many labia up close and personal. If you’re comparing your labia to bodies you see in pornography, remind yourself that porn isn’t real, and neither are many of those body parts you’re seeing. To get a good look at other labia, check out illustrations and photos you can find for free online (like these and these). Many years ago, Joani Blank produced a beautiful book of full color photos of vulvas called Femalia. More recently a book called Body Drama included photos of vulva, again designed to offer women an accurate point of reference.

If I Don’t Like My Labia, Why Not Change Them?

There are a small number of cosmetic plastic surgeons performing medically unnecessary cosmetic surgery on female genitalia to alter the look of the genitals (variously called vaginal rejuvenation, labiaplasty, and female cosmetic genital surgery). Despite media hype, these remain fringe procedures, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' official position is that these surgeries show no sign of benefit and carry a variety of risks. For these reasons, the only circumstance under which having your labia surgically altered is recommended is when it is medically necessary (if they are causing pain, preventing you from doing daily activities including having sexual intercourse without pain).

The Bottom Line

Body image is tied up with sexuality in a variety of complicated ways that are difficult to untangle. If you’re unhappy with some part of your body, you should try to do something about it. Talk with friends, a partner, family member, or healthcare provider you trust. It isn’t easy, but you can make change in the way you feel about your body, and sexual expression --alone or with a partner -- can be a great help. If you are experiencing pain during sex and think it might be related to your labia, you can get an answer by seeing your doctor and getting a referral to a gynecologist.

 

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