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22nd September 2022

Gynecologists Finally Debunked Vulvas

No two vulvas are the same. There’s no standard! Vulvas can be all kinds of shapes and sizes

Cosmopolitan Magazine invited Miss Julie Bowring, consultant gynaecologist in Sexual and Reproductive Health at London Gynaecology to shed light on that everyone has a unique and different type of vulva!  There are no set number of vulva types. Each vagina is unique and specific to every person. So there’s not necessarily a “normal” vagina shape or standard way your vagina should look. “You know the saying, ‘No two snowflakes are exactly alike?’ Well, the expression could just as easily refer to the vulva and vagina,”

Get ready to learn all about the vulva as we answer the question ‘what is the vulva?’, bust misconceptions and uncover the truths about the vulva we wish everyone knew as much as Julie.

  • Are vulvas and labias symmetrical/ look the same or do they vary in shapes and sizes?

The vulva and the labia vary hugely in size and appearance for woman to woman. They also undergo a lot of physiological changes from being a young girl to having children and after the menopause. It is common to have asymmetry in the body and also in the vulva.

  • Is having a longer labia ‘outie’ something to be concerned about health wise? How to know when to see a doctor or think about surgery?

There is no right shape or size of labia and it can change during your various life stages. Having a longer labia that sticks out is not abnormal and women should be reassured by this. In very few women, there are genuine symptoms arising from the elongated or enlarged labia and these women should be managed in a multidisciplinary manner before surgery is considered.

  • How unique can vulvas be? Eg labia, size, shape, colour, clitoral hood. I like the term ‘Our vulvas are as unique as our faces and aren’t perfect.’

Vulvas are incredible unique and they vary just like all our bodily characteristic – so from the labial size to the shape.

MYTH : Hair-free vulvas are cleaner

No this is a common misconception. Pubic hair has several purposes one of which is to catch bacteria and other potential harmful organisms.

MYTH: Vulvas are light pink

No. Vulvas vary in colour just as your skin tone varies. However, if you notice a new area of skin that has changed in colour, please do see your GP.

MYTH: Labia are small, tidy and tucked away

The vulva has two folds of skin either side which is the labia majora and minora – they are designed to stick out, how far will vary and they do not have to be tucked away out of sight.

MYTH : Healthy vulvas are smooth

No this is not true. The vulva skin has a number of reasons why it might not be smooth for instance sweat glands and hair follicles may cause the skin to appear slightly bumpy. But, if you are worried about a new lump or raised area please see your GP or gynaecologist.

MYTH: Discharge is a sign of an unclean, smelly vagina

No this is not the case. Normal physiological vaginal discharge that is not itchy or irritant is good as it cleanses the vagina and reduces friction. Smelly discharge can be a sign of infection such as bacterial vaginosis or candida infection. Best way to get rid of the smell is to start appropriate treatment after seeing a doctor.

We offer a comprehensive service for women with vulva problems so if you have any concerns book your consultation today click here.

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