The “lips” of my vagina seem weird. They’re kind of wrinkly, and the inner ones are bigger than the outer ones. They’re also almost black. Is that normal?
It’s great that you’re paying attention to your body and getting to know it a bit better! We have good news for you—it sounds like your body is completely normal.
First, let’s go over some anatomy 101 so you know exactly what we’re talking about.
What you call the “lips” of your vagina are called your labia. As you’ve already noticed, you have an inner set (labia minora) and an outer set (labia majora). Together, the labia, clitoral glans, vaginal opening and urethra make up your vulva. The vulva is your external genitalia.
You may be surprised that we didn’t include the vagina. That’s because the vagina is actually part of your internal genitalia, meaning that it’s inside your body and you can’t see it from the outside.
Your labia protect your vagina from bacteria from the outside world. They also become more sensitive when you become aroused (or turned on), and can make sex feel more pleasurable. Three cheers for your labia!
Just like people may feel self-conscious about their height, breasts, legs or tummy, many people feel self-conscious or even anxious about the way their labia look. You are FAR from the only person who feels this way.
But you should know that labia come in all sizes, colors and textures.
It’s very normal for your inner labia to extend past your outer labia. It’s also normal for them not to! Like all bodies, there’s a ton of variety in them. Labia can be pink, brown, black, peach, tan and even purple-y or blueish. You may notice that the color of your labia is different in different places. Some labia are smoother, while others are wrinkly. Some labia are the same size all the way around, while others are short in some areas and longer in others. It’s also normal for your labia to change in color, size and texture during puberty.
We hope that knowing just how different everyone’s labia are will help you feel better about yours. Your body is unique and beautiful and does amazing things for you every day. We also understand that knowing something doesn’t always mean you feel it. If you still feel self-conscious, consider checking out The Vulva Gallery, which celebrates the diversity of vulvas with illustrations of all different kinds of vulvas and labia.
If you’re still concerned about how your labia look, talk to your doctor.
They can do a visual check to make sure that you’re healthy and developing as you should be. If you’re in NYC and 10-22 years old, you can make a free, confidential appointment at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. Our adolescent medicine specialists can answer any other questions you have about your body.
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This column is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual, only general information for education purposes only.
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Photo from Christine and David Schmitt