What does a normal vulva look like?
No vulva is the same. And they’re all actually pretty normal. Unfortunately, many vulva owners aren’t aware of what it looks like down there. That’s actually pretty strange if you think about it. Because why do we all look at our butt, legs and stomach but shy away when it comes to our vulva. Maybe it’s time we all grab a mirror every now and then and try to look at our own vulva while standing or squatting.
The vulva is the area of the external genitalia. It’s the area that’s between the mons venus (mons pubis, this is the pad of fat that lays over the pubic bone and is covered with hair),the groin and the anus. The vulva has outer labia, inner labia that cover part of the clitors, and the vaginal opening. The area around the vaginal opening is also called the vestibule of the vagina.
Your vulva changes during puberty. The outer labia (labia majora) become fuller and grow outward. The inner labia (labia minora) grow in length and usually become longer than the outer labia. But not only during puberty do your labia grow. Your labia also become extra sensitive during sex and swell up when you’re aroused. This happens because there’s an increased blood flow to your vagina, which makes your labia more sensitive to sexual stimuli and makes sex more pleasurable. Many vulva owners enjoy having their labia touched during sex. Really not that surprising, when you consider that there are a lot of nerve endings from your clitoris running through your outer labia.
Too big, too messy?
The shape of your lips down there was never a topic of conversation. But that changed with the advent of magazines like Playboy and the porn industry, where women shaved their vulva completely bald, which led to the idea of what the vulva should look like. The models and actresses of the porn industry often have small labia, giving both men and women the idea that these sizes are the norm. But forget that! The inner labia, like the breasts, are naturally uneven and can thus look pretty messy. They’re also often larger than the outer lips. That’s absolutely normal!
The color of the inner labia can also vary from person to person. From light pink to brownish black. That depends on the skin color of the vulva owner. Just like nipples, the labia can change as you get older and during or after pregnancy. They can be wrinkled or smooth and can also have yellow dots (sebaceous glands) or papillae. Nothing to worry about.
The tip of the clitoris that you see on the outside looks different for everyone. For some it’s hidden under the clitoral hood, which is the flap of skin at the top where the labia minora meet. For others it’s more visible and larger. And when aroused, the clitoris, like the penis, can swell and get hard. It may even stick out a bit, this is all normal.
The vestibule of the vagina is the innermost part of the inner labia around the opening of the vagina. The area is normally a bit moist. A number of glands emerge in this area. These glands produce fluid that increases with sexual arousal. Some vulva owners have inner labia that are so large that they suffer from it every day. For example, it hurts when cycling, it gets in the way when wearing pants or they fold inward during sex because they’re pushed in by the penis. When you experience serious complaints, you can - when you’re fully grown - get an operation that’s partially covered by insurance (the costs are about €1400). The gynecologist or plastic surgeon will then reduce your inner labia.
Vulva image credits go to Gynodiversity.
Are you not satisfied with your vulva, but do you experience little or no problems with it? Then remember that we all have unique vulva’s that are all perfect. Be proud of your lips. They belong to you!