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  • Are my labia ‘normal’?

Are my labia ‘normal’?

There are a lot of social and cultural pressures that can cause us to wonder whether our labia are normal and make us anxious about the way we look.

Images in the media, and general ideas about what ‘normal’ is, can make it seem like there is one standard type of labia or specific way that they should look. But the truth is, there isn’t. Labia come in many shapes, sizes, textures and colours, and everyone’s different. There is no one version of ‘normal’. The appearance of your labia is largely determined by your genetics and will change throughout your life based on your age, and whether you experience pregnancy or vaginal birth.

For further information about concerns you may have, check out the topics below. Images that show just how diverse labia are can be found in our online gallery. If you are a parent or carer and are concerned about your child, view our Information and advice for parents and carers page.

I don't look the same as everyone else

We’re all different downstairs and healthy vulvas come in lots of different shapes, sizes, colours and textures.  There’s so much diversity in the way vulvas look, and there is no ‘standard’ version.

If you’ve only seen vulvas on the internet or in pornography, you might be surprised to find out that they’re usually digitally altered, and many of the performers and models have had genital cosmetic surgery.

The Labia gallery shows photos of 52 different labia, and there are over 3.6 billion others in the world. If you don’t see an image that looks like yours, this does not make you any less normal!

If you’re still worried, doctors (particularly gynaecologists) can be a good source of advice. Gynaecologists are specifically trained in vulval and vaginal health and see vulvas every day, so have a good understanding of what’s normal. For more information, check out our ‘See a doctor or gynaecologist’ section below.

Someone said something

Labia can often be referred to using language including slang that is negative or disrespectful. This can make people feel that their labia are not OK. 

Many people don’t know much about what labia look like, and labia diversity may not have been covered in your sex education classes at school. If someone says something to you about your labia, or labia in general, they might have made an assumption that everyone looks the same. They might have been told something or heard something about the way labia ‘should’ look. Maybe they’ve never seen a vulva at all and don’t really know what to expect.

Whatever the case, it’s not OK for anyone (a sexual partner, a friend, your mum) to comment or pass judgement on your labia. Vulvas are as diverse as faces, and we don’t expect everyone’s face to be the same. If someone has said something and you would like some support, check out these resources for kids, teenagers and young adults and adults

It can be particularly hurtful if a sexual partner says something negative about your vulva or labia. Your sexual partner is someone you should be able to trust, and if they comment negatively on your body, you might need to think about whether they are a person you want to keep around you. For more information on respectful relationships, visit 1800 RESPECT. 

If you’re still worried, speak to someone you trust or check out our Victorian, Australian or international resource sections.

My friend is worried about their labia

If you have a friend who’s worried about their labia, send them here! Be supportive and let them know that there’s lots of variety in the way vulvas look and that it’s not cool for anyone (a sexual partner, a friend, their mum, or anyone else) to pass judgement on what they look like down there. 

If they’ve only seen vulvas online or in pornography, they may not be getting the full story. Labia vary significantly in size, colour, shape and symmetry. 

If they’re still worried, get them to speak to someone they trust or check out our Victorian, Australian or international resource sections. If they want information about accessing a doctor, tell them to visit our ‘See a doctor or gynaecologist’ section below. Doctors and gynaecologists are very experienced in this field – they see vulvas every day and are a good source of advice if your friend still has concerns.

Labia discomfort

The skin of the labia is sensitive and can become irritated by tight clothing, synthetic underwear, cleaning products (scented laundry detergent and soaps) and sanitary products. If your labia feel uncomfortable or itchy, you can try wearing underwear or clothes that are one size bigger and made from natural fibres, such as cotton, and avoiding tight-fitting synthetic underwear. Some underwear is just not wide enough between the legs to accommodate every vulva – this is an issue with the underwear, not your vulva. 

Activities like cycling can also cause labia discomfort, including chafing, swelling, numbness and irritation. To avoid this, make sure that your bike is fitted to you (for example, the height and type of seat are adjusted to make sure that your ‘sit bones’ take most of the weight when sitting, rather than the labia). Sitting in a more upright position reduces pressure on the labia, so adjusting the position of the handlebars so that you don’t have to reach too far forwards is recommended. 

Some people experience labia discomfort during sex. This can be caused by not enough lubrication, which then leads to friction and irritation. Using a water-based lubricant and/or increasing stimulation of the clitoris before sex can help with this. If you have had gender affirming surgery, it is important to be aware you may not self-lubricate.

For some people, removing hair from the labia and vulva can cause irritation, as well as other effects such as ingrown hairs.

If your labia are painful or constantly itchy, you should contact your doctor or gynaecologist. For information about finding a doctor, see the section ‘See a doctor or gynaecologist’ below.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have symptoms that appear on the labia, such as sores, cysts, bumps, blisters or warts. STIs are spread through sexual contact or through the transfer of bodily fluids (e.g. blood) from someone who has an infection. Like many other types of infections that are spread from person to person, they are very common – you may be surprised just how common. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 million STIs are acquired every day worldwide. (If you live in Victoria and are interested in local STI statistics, check out the Victorian Women’s Health Atlas.)

Some STIs are lifelong (such as genital warts), and for a lot of people, these are a regular part of their genital appearance, but effective treatments are available for many other types. If you are concerned you may have an STI, you should see your doctor. For information on specific STIs, and STI prevention and treatment, other useful resources are Sexual Health Victoria and Play Safe.

See a doctor or gynaecologist

If you have further questions about your labia that have not been answered on this site, we recommend speaking to a General Practitioner who specialises in women’s health or a gynaecologist (a doctor who specialises in the female reproductive system).

When you make an appointment, you can ask to see a female doctor if that would make you feel more comfortable.

In Australia, you will need a referral from a General Practitioner if you want to see a gynaecologist. Gynaecologists usually charge a bit more for appointments.

If you’re concerned about cost, Sexual Health Victoria provide services for people under 21 that are low or no cost and youth friendly.

For resources that support trans and gender diverse people to access healthcare, visit  Transhub.

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