This is a question many teenage girls ask themselves and it’s leading to an increasing number of them seeking genital surgery. So much so, that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has voiced its concern.
It’s worried that girls aged 13-19 may have unrealistic expectations about the appearance of their genitals due to exposure to images portrayed on adult websites.
The ACOG is calling on doctors to help educate young women about what is ‘normal’ when it comes to their vaginas.
The truth is that vaginas come in all shapes, sizes and colours. And this variety is totally normal!
A study by Dr Brook McFadden of Ohio State University, which looked at 168 women, found there to be a massive range in labia size. The labia majora (outer lips) ranged in length from 4 cms to 11.5 cms (with an average size of 8.1 cms).
The labia minora (inner lips) ranged even more, from 0.8 cms to 8 cms – plus the right and left lips had different average lengths (left – 4 cms / right – 3.8 cms). Meanwhile, clitoral length ranges from 0.4 cms to 4 cms.
To get an idea of what ‘real’ vaginas look like, girls are encouraged to check out websites such as The Great Wall of Vagina and Labia Library.
Labiaplasty (genital surgery) is about more than making the vulva ‘look good’, it is a corrective procedure that can address issues such as:
- Labia is chaffing and causing discomfort
- Labia makes sport, such as cycling or horse riding uncomfortable
- Labia is low-hanging and protrudes from underwear/bikini
- Labia has suffered trauma and requires repair
- Labia has been mutilated and requires reconstruction
- Labia has stretched as a result of childbirth or age
- Labia is inhibiting sexual enjoyment
It is never advisable to have genital surgery during adolescence, unless there is an urgent need, because the body is undergoing hormonally driven physical changes
Ideally, patients should wait until they are fully matured – around 20-years-of-age. By this time, all developmental changes are complete and the patient has had time to fully consider the surgery.
If you are aged below 18 and your labia is causing you marked discomfort or serious psychological distress we may still be able to help you. Please make an appointment for a free consultation and we can advise you on the best course of action. Follow the link to our contact form.