What EVERY woman needs to know about her vagina
A little porn viewing can lead to questions. Not just the, "How did they defy gravity to do that?" kind, but also questions about vaginas. Does everyone have perfect pink ones like those on screen? How come their labia are so small? What exactly is normal? "With the rise of porn, I've seen women really asking and comparing," says Katherine O'Connell White, director of the family planning fellowship at Boston University. But porn is not reality. Those women are waxed, plucked, and often surgically altered, which can make the rest of us start to question what we've got going on downstairs. So, answers…
Illustration by Nina Cosford
First - THE LABIA
Here's an anatomy refresher: there's the majora (the larger outer lips) and the minora (the inner area connected to your clitoris). The labia minora, especially, are the source of many questions. Doctors we spoke to reported that women worry their inner labia are too long, too short, too lumpy, or too lopsided.
I've wondered if something was wrong with me, because mine are bumpy and stick out." Obstetrician/gynaecologist (ob-gyn) explains that these bumps and ridges in the labia form naturally, and they can and do look like broccoli - nothing weird there. "All of this is normal and healthy," says Dr Naina. Asymmetry is also standard for any body part that comes in twos (see: your almost-definitely-not-the-same-size boobs). As for length, short and long are both common.
The only time you should worry is if your labia cause you any pain, especially if they are getting pulled into your vagina during sex. This is probably the only scenario, ob-gyn Dr Naina says, that would justify labiaplasty, a surgical procedure that shortens or reshapes the lips. "That's a functional issue, not a cosmetic one," she says.
Second - THE CLITORIS
Bigger doesn't mean better (though it might make the spot a little easier for your partner to find). One caveat, says Dr Naina: if your clitoris is protruding past your labia when you're not aroused, it could be a sign of excess testosterone, which in rare cases can be a sign of an underlying ovarian mass that could be cancerous. Check with your doctor if you're concerned, but otherwise, experts say, all shapes and sizes lead to the same good time.