The labia are two folds of the skin that meet above the vaginal opening. The inner fold (inner lip of the vagina) is known as labia minora, and the outer fold (outer lip of the vagina) is known as labia majora.
What does a normal labia look like?
There are large variations in the natural size and color of the labia among women. They can be long or short, dark or light. A study found that the size of the labia minora ranged from 20 to 100 mm. The size does not vary because of the woman’s age, the number of deliveries she had, her ethnic background, hormonal use, and how many times she had sex.
It is normal for one side of the labia to be shorter or longer than its other side. Additionally, the labia size may change over time and depends on factors such as pubertal age and sports activities the woman does.
What are the symptoms of labial hypertrophy?
Labial hypertrophy usually affects the labia minora more than the labia majora. When the labia minora protrudes outside of the labia majora, it can be very irritating.
Labial hypertrophy can affect one or both sides of the labia. Most women do not develop any symptoms of labial hypertrophy. However, in some women, labial hypertrophy can cause the following:
What causes labial hypertrophy?
Doctors do not know the clear cause of labial hypertrophy. Some women have large labia by birth (genetic), whereas some develop later in life. Causes may include:
- Puberty (due to changes in the hormonal levels)
- Pregnancy (due to increased blood circulation to the genitals)
If you notice swelling in your labia or have symptoms that are causing discomfort, speak to a doctor.
How do doctors diagnose labial hypertrophy?
What is the treatment of labial hypertrophy?
Most often, labial hypertrophy does not need any treatment. A simple measure can help you reduce the discomfort. Here is what you can do:
- Avoid all synthetic and tight panties and switch over to cotton, loose-fitting ones
- Avoid wearing tight jeans and choose loose-fitting pants
- Use a mild soap (scent-free, chemical-free) while bathing
If the symptoms do not resolve with lifestyle changes, your doctor may suggest a simple surgical procedure known as labiaplasty. You can opt for labiaplasty for purely cosmetic reasons as well.