“Love your body” is a well-intended yet oftentimes complicated message. Sure, most of us are probably thankful that our body allows us to do all that we do but loving how your body looks can sometimes be easier said than done. This is especially true when a very particular type of body is shown in tv, magazines, and yes, even porn. Not only does it make you have certain expectations for your body but it can make others (ie sexual partners) have certain expectations of your body, too!
We’re not even talking about how big your butt is (or isn’t) or how big your breasts are (or aren’t), we’re talking about something that, for most of us, isn’t even seen by the general public yet can still cause mental anguish for those who don’t fall into the parameters of what is and isn’t “normal”: Your labia. The American Society of Plastic Surgery estimates that over 12,000 labiaplasty procedures were performed in 2016, a 39% increase from 2015. Performed for both cosmetic and functional reasons, labiaplasty usually trims excess labia minora tissue that can be troublesome for women. The Association’s site points out that most labiaplasty patients go through with the procedure due to discomfort or pain, not aesthetics. However, sites like The Vulva Gallery, the Labia Library, and exist for a reason – There is clearly a need to illustrate and talk about the diversity of vulvas that exist outside of the same ones we see again and again in porn. Let’s dive in, shall we?
The vulva is made up of the clitoris, the labia (lips), and the vestibule. The clitoris is the most sensitive erogenous zone and generally the primary anatomical source of sexual pleasure. The labia is made up of the labia majora (the prominent lips that extend downward and backward from the mons pubis to the perineum) and the labia minora (the two flaps of skin on either side of the vaginal opening, situated between the labia minora). The vestibule is another name for the vaginal opening.
If you have these parts, congratulations! You have a “normal” vulva! No matter what shape, size, color, etc. (unless it hurts), you can rest assured that your vulva is completely and 100% normal.
Still need some assurance about your bits? Let’s take a look at the most common types. Keep in mind, however, that no two vulvas look exactly alike so if yours varies a bit from what we share below, it’s normal!
Prominent Labia Majora (Outer Lips)
Some vulvas have prominent labia majora which sit much lower than the labia minora. The outer lips may be full and puffed up or thin and hanging a bit more, but in either case the labia minora is not seen in this type.
Prominent Labia Minora (Inner Lips)
Would you be shocked to learn that this is the most common kind of vulva? In this very common type of vulva, the labia minora are longer than the labia majora and extend below them. Sometimes it’s a subtle protrusion while sometimes it’s much more obvious. In our expert opinion, it’s sexy either way.
Small, Closed Lips
Ahh, yes – You know this one. Not because you have it – in fact, this is the least common type of vulva – but because it’s the type you’re most likely to see in porn and even on dolls. In this kind of vulva, the labia minora are tucked away inside the labia majora and the labia majora tend to be more flat/rest against the pubic bone versus puffed-up or full like the aforementioned Prominent Labia Majora.
Small Open Lips
The only difference between this type of vulva and the small, closed lips vulva is that the labia majora are “open” a lot or a little, exposing the labia minora.
Asymmetrical Labia Minora (Inner Lips)
This is another very common type of vulva. Much like the Prominent Labia Minora, the difference is that one side of the labia minora is longer than the other meaning that only one side of the labia minora may extend past the labia majora. This can make it seems like you’re “uneven” but not to worry, this is very common and there is absolutely no reason to worry (again, unless you’re experiencing pain).
Visible Labia Minora (Inner Lips)
In this type of vulva, the labia minora take the stage. Described by some as a “flower about to bloom”, the labia minora will typically be exposed through the entire length of the labia majora.
Curved Labia Majora (Outer Lips)
In this type, your labia minora will be exposed in the front of your vulva but your labia majora will curve round and meet evenly at the bottom. Typically, your labia minora will be inside your labia majora.
It cannot be stressed enough – As long as it is not causing you any pain or discomfort, your vulva is totally and completely normal no matter what it looks like. Just like everything else in life, there is beauty in the diversity so rather than stress about how yours looks (or doesn’t look), enjoy it!