Everything You Need To Know About Your Labia

Illustration by Sarah C. Wintner

Illustration by Sarah C. Wintner

Everyone who has a vagina has a labia, but so many of us honestly don’t know a damn thing about it. Like, be honest: Do you know what the labia does? How many parts there are to it? If someone were to set you down and ask you to give an exact definition of the labia for $500,000, would you win that money?

If the answers to those questions are bashful “no’s” then you definitely need to check out this post about everything you need to know about the labia. From myth busting to dishing out the straight up facts, we’ve got you.

Okay, so, what exactly is the labia?

The labia is a pretty major part of female genitalia. To understand it, you need to know that the labia can be broken down into two major parts: The labia majora (the outer labia) and the labia minora (the inner labia).

You know those two fleshy bits that hang from the vulva? Yeah, that’s your labia majora. It usually gets pretty hairy when you start puberty, just like the rest of your vulva. It’s pretty visible from a standing position. The smooth, slightly stretchy folds of skin inside the labia majora are the labia minora. They tend to be a little more hidden than the labia majora and are more noticable if you–frankly–open up your legs a little or gently pull away the labia majora with your fingers.

By the way, if you’ve ever heard somebody refer to lips down there, they’re most definitely referring to the labia. Fun fact: Labia means lips in Latin. So labia maora means big lips while labia minora means small lips.

wish upon a star lipstick

What does it, you know, do?

The labia has a pretty big job: It protects (and cushions) the clitoris as well as the urethra and the vaginal opening.

Is it normal for the labia to get a little sweaty?

It’s super normal for the outer labia to get a little sweaty because there are sebaceous glands (oil glands) and sweat glands chillin’ down there. So if you find yourself getting a little, er, damp down there, don’t sweat it.

(I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop myself).

sweating

I think my labia looks a little funky. What does a normal labia look like?

Okay, I want to make something super clear: There is no such thing as a normal looking labia. Everyone’s labia looks different. Some people have a super fleshy outer labia and a super tiny inner labia. Other people have a super visible inner labia that is immediately noticeable and a very small outer labia. Some flaps are smoother, some are wrinklier. Every labia is different and unique!

Seriously, we’re talking about genitals here, they all look weird.

Unless there is an abnormal growth or rash on your labia, your labia does not look funky. But if you want extra reassurance, take a look at your bits and then check out the Large Labia Project (NSFW). It’s a site that features user submitted photos of, you guessed it, their labia! It’s purpose is to prove that everyone’s labia looks a little different and that you have nothing to worry about.

Okay, so I heard that having big or flappy labia folds means that you’ve had a lot of sex. Is that true?

eyeroll

OMG. I saw a post about this floating around Twitter a couple of weeks ago. It compared two different drawings of female genitalia. One featured a smooth pair of outer labia lips, the other, a pair of flappy inner labia lips. It implied that the smooth lips belonged to someone who hasn’t had a lot of sex, while the looser lips belonged to someone who got a lot of D. Luckily, this stupid illustration was torn apart by anyone and everyone with a basic understanding of female genitalia.

Listen: Your labia has literally nothing to do with what goes in and out of your vagina. I REPEAT, YOUR LABIA HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT GOES IN AND OUT OF YOUR VAGINA. That means that it has nothing to do with one’s sex life. The idea that somebody is a “slut” or a “virgin” based on what their labia looks like is absurd to the point of actually being funny. This is why we need better sex ed, y’all. How do people even come up with this crap?

The not so funny thing about this is that it perpetuates the notion of what a good labia looks like. There is literally no such thing! Which leads me to the next question. 

I’ve heard of something called labiaplasty. What exactly is it and why do people get it?

See, this is what happens when people come up with some BS idea of what a sexy labia looks like. Labiaplasty is a procedure in which a plastic surgeon cuts off parts of the labia minora. Of all of the “vaginal rejuvenation” surgeries out there, this is, apparently, the most popular. Yes, even more popular than the procedure that helps make your labia from looking less saggy (a labia lift?).

So, why is this so popular? Well, it’s hard to pin point exactly why, but having a barely there labia minor has been pretty popular in the Brazilian wax-happy world of porn. Apparently, having a (hairless) outer lips is cute. But those unsightly, droopy inner lips? Oh, they gotta go, that’s not sexy.

real-housewives-of-atlanta-porsha-sideeye

Excuse me while I vomit.

The fact that there’s now an ideal way that the labia should look is actually pretty damn sad. I get it, some people are just self conscious about their vaginas, and I’m not here to shame them for feeling that way. But I do think it’s fair to critique yet another creepy standard of perfection that women are pressured into fitting into if they want to be seen as desirable.

Just a tip: Please, have some love for your labia. Whether it’s funny looking or not, it’s sticking around for a while, so you might as well learn to appreciate it!

What other myths have you heard about the labia? Have you ever even gotten a good look at yours? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!

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