7 types of vaginas and why yours is totally normal
- There's no such thing as a normal type of vulva because there are so many different sizes and shapes.
- The symmetry and shape of your vulva largely depend on the size of your labia and clitoris.
If you've ever taken a peek at your vulva — the outer part of a person with a vagina's genitals that includes the vagina, labia, and clitoris — and wondered if yours is normal, you're not alone.
"The truth is a lot of women don't like their vaginas. One in seven women have considered getting labiaplasty, which basically is trimming and tucking the vulva and tightening up the entrance," says Sherry Ross, MD, OB-GYN and a women's health expert with her own private practice.
In fact, a 2017 report by the Cosmetic Surgery National Data Bank showed that labiaplasties increased by 213% from 2012-2017, indicating that more and more people were seeking cosmetic procedures to alter their vagina's appearance.
It's important to note that everyone has a unique and different type of vulva, says Ross. And unless it's causing you discomfort, there's no reason to be ashamed of what it looks like or to undergo expensive surgery to reshape it.
While there's no set number of vulva "types," there are many variations in the size, symmetry and color of a person's labia (or lips) and clitoris. Here's what your vulva might look like and why it's totally normal.
Is my vagina "normal"?
Each vagina is unique and specific to every person. So there's not necessarily a "normal" vagina shape or standard way your vagina should look.
"You know the saying, 'No two snowflakes are exactly alike?' Well, the expression could just as easily refer to the vulva and vagina," says Ross.
"The labia, or lips — which is where most of the issues are for the majority of female patients — vary from person to person. In fact, even the separate parts of the same vagina are not exactly the same ... this is completely normal; different is normal," says Ross.
Pubic hair is also a normal part of having a vagina. Most people develop pubic hair on the area surrounding their vagina.
Vagina anatomy 101
- Vulva: The outer part of your vagina is called your vulva. This contains the vaginal lips (labia), urethra, vagina opening, and clitoris, among other anatomy.
- Mons Pubis: The mound that sits above your vulva (i.e the front of your vagina) is your mons pubis.
- Labia majora: These are part of the outer lips of your vagina and are usually pink, red, or brownish in color.
- Labia minora: The inner folds of the vagina that sit inside of the labia majora.
- Clitoris: A small bundle of nerves that sits at the top of your vagina, above your urethra, and can vary in size. Though you can't see it, the nerves that make up the clitoris actually extend farther than what you can see to the back and sides of the vagina.
- Clitorial hood: The clitorial hood is the small fleshy covering above the clitoris
- Urethra: This is a small hole underneath your clitoris where your urine comes out of when you pee.
- Vaginal opening: This opening sits in between your labia majora and minora and below your clitoris and urethra.
7 vagina variations that might resemble your own
Despite what you may find on the internet, there are technically no set "types" of vaginas.
"No two are the same nor symmetrical. All vulva's vary in size, shape, color, fullness and texture. The clitoral hood and size of the clitoris also vary in appearance in size, shape, and fullness," says Ross.
Some common variations in shape, size, and color of your vagina might look like the following examples.
Your vagina may have asymmetrical lips (meaning one of your labia is larger or smaller than the other). This is incredibly normal and nothing to be concerned about. Think about how one of your eyes is usually smaller than the other: the same concept applies to the vagina, says Ross.
You might notice your labia are tucked into your vulva or your outer vaginal lips are larger and cover your labia minora.
Big outer and inner labia
You may have labia that are larger or puffier in size. It's normal to have your labia go past your vulva and stick out. You might find that some underwear like thongs don't offer the kind of support you need.
Outer labia that sticks out more
You may have outer labia lips that are small or shorter, which show your labia minora and majora more.
Inner labia that sticks out more
You may have a vagina where your inner labia stick out more or are longer.
Big or small clitoris
Your clitoris might be larger or more sensitive than another persons or visa versa. According to Planned Parenthood, clitorises can range from the "size of a small pea to the size of your thumb."
A vagina that isn't pink
You may also find that your vagina varies in color. Not all vaginas are pink. Some are brown or on the redder side, which depends on a number of factors including hormones, skin tone, blood flow and more. It's also not abnormal to see some discoloration in the skin surrounding your vagina. However, bright red skin or a rash could indicate there's something amiss like a yeast infection.
Note: The Australian non-profit Women's Health Victoria has a "Labia Library" where you can check out real medical photos of different kinds of labia.
Why do so many people want to change their vaginas?
A number of studies have pointed to porn, ads, and other unrealistic media representations of vaginas as a potential cause for people's dissatisfaction with their vaginas. Ross agrees, saying that porn is a potential explanation on why some feel like their vaginas are "abnormal" or "ugly."
A 2015 analysis of 480 women found that 40.7% of the women interviewed said that they had some qualm with their vagina, including issues with the length and color of their labia.
"Porn and social media has created vaginal insecurity which has helped move vaginal rejuvenation to the forefront," says Ross.
How to change your vaginal shape
While you shouldn't be ashamed of the look and size of your vagina, there are options to change its appearance if that's what you prefer. These might include:
- The size or shape of your labia may cause some discomfort during sports or other activities.
- Your labia are noticeable enough in clothing that you personally want to alter its appearance.
"The primary procedure … is called a labiaplasty. A trained plastic surgeon or gynecologist can perform this simple outpatient procedure, and the results can be life-changing," says Ross.
However, according to Ross, this surgery can cause some complications like painful scarring or discomfort during sex. Ross also recommends getting a second or third opinion before you opt for surgery.
What's the cost: A labiaplasty can cost between $3,000 and $8,500 depending on the doctor and what your specific procedure will entail. Sometimes insurance will cover it and sometimes not - you may want to check on your particular insurance coverage.
"As always, it's important to have a candid talk with your doctor and maintain realistic expectations," says Ross.
The media, including porn and social media, might make you feel like your vagina isn't normal or desirable. Everyone's vagina is different and can range in color, shape, and symmetry. So there's no "perfect" or "normal" way for your vagina to look.
You may also find your vagina changes with age. "Just like any other part of your body with skin glands and hair follicles, the appearance of the vagina is affected by the aging process and how well you care for it," says Ross.
Regardless, some people may want to have surgery or other procedures. A surgical procedure called a labiaplasty can reduce the length and appearance of your labia, but it comes with its own risks and a hefty price tag.
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