There is no objective “ideal labia” any more than there is an ideal hair length or nose size (although in my case, I’d have to say “ideal” would mean just a little bit smaller). There are many reasons to cut your hair, but the consequences of altering your labia can be serious. Before we get deeper into the topic of female genitalia, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page by educating ourselves on the terminology for female genitals.
There are two sets of labia, the outer labia and the inner labia. The outer labia are what you see if the genitals are not pulled open or if the woman is not aroused. They hide both the inner labia as well as the urethral and vaginal opening. Both sets of labia are rich with nerve endings, and both may respond to sexual stimulation. What little research we have on labia size indicates that there is a wide natural variation in the shape and size of labia.
Too Big Compared to What?
The labia minora are two small folds of thin, delicate skin that lie on either side of the vaginal opening. They are about 0.4 to 6.4 cm long and 2 cm wide on average, but it is important to note that there is a much wider range when looking at normal variants from 1.2 to 10 cm in length or 0.7 to 5 cm in width.
Some women’s labia are different sizes, and that is perfectly normal. A study showed that the two labia of a single woman were almost always asymmetrical, meaning there may be significant variations in size between them as well as between other women. There are no labia that can be considered too small, nor too big.
The only labia that are too big are labia that are causing you physical pain. Otherwise, whatever the size of your labia is just fine.
This, of course, is different than saying you think your labia are just fine, or that you like the way your labia look. We all have parts of our bodies we don’t like or that we worry about from time to time.
If you don’t like the way your labia look, I agree that you should do something about it — but, what you do should be psychological rather than surgical. The increase in questions about labia size seems to suspiciously coincide with a small number of ethically challenged plastic surgeons who are trying to make money off of others’ body image problems, but it would be hard to prove a causal link.
Because the inner labia are tucked away out of sight, unless you are a gynecologist or someone having sex with lots of other women, you probably haven’t seen that many labia up close and personal. If you’re comparing your labia to bodies you see in pornography, remind yourself that porn isn’t real, and neither are many of those body parts you’re seeing.
To get a good look at other labia, check out illustrations and photos you can find for free online. Many years ago, Joani Blank produced a beautiful book of full-color photos of vulvas called Femalia. More recently a book called Body Drama included photos of vulva, again designed to offer women an accurate point of reference.
If I Don’t Like My Labia, Why Not Change Them?
There are a small number of cosmetic plastic surgeons performing medically unnecessary cosmetic surgery on female genitalia to alter the look of the genitals (variously called vaginal rejuvenation, labiaplasty, and female cosmetic genital surgery). Despite media hype, these remain fringe procedures, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ official position is that these surgeries show no sign of benefit and carry a variety of risks.
For these reasons, the only circumstance under which having your labia surgically altered is recommended is when it is medically necessary (if they are causing pain, preventing you from doing daily activities including having sexual intercourse without pain).
To really think about the implications of a labiaplasty, you should have an open and honest discussion with your GP first. Even though there are potential risks and no guarantee of what the outcome will be, it’s still important to consider all aspects before you make such a permanent decision.
Having a labiaplasty is not something to take lightly-it can be expensive and comes with various risks. It might also not work out how you expect it to. But if you’re considering having one done, talk to your GP first.
The Bottom Line
Body image is tied up with sexuality in a variety of complicated ways that are difficult to untangle. If you’re unhappy with some part of your body, you should try to do something about it. Talk with friends, a partner, family member, or healthcare provider you trust.
It isn’t easy, but you can make a change in the way you feel about your body, and sexual expression –alone or with a partner — can be a great help. If you are experiencing pain during sex and think it might be related to your labia, you can get an answer by seeing your doctor and getting a referral to a gynecologist.
Whatever the size of your labia, there are plenty of pleasurable ways to stimulate that extra sensitive area. Multiple sex toys for external clit and labia stimulation will help you accept the fact that the size of the labia doesn’t have a significant impact on your sexual wellbeing. Below you’ll find the most common sex toys for external stimulation: