Spoiler alert: they’re all normal
Vulvas. Labias. Muffs - Call it what you want but we’re talking about the exterior part of your vagina. Everybody will have a different vulva that is unique to them and they’re all perfectly normal.
This is yet another topic that has previously been considered taboo to talk about. With society often portraying a specific type of vulva through mainstream porn or Barbie dolls, many women end up with a complex about how their vulvas look.
We’re here to clear things up: no matter what the shape, size, colour, your vulva is completely normal.
What is a vulva?
First of all, let’s get some definitions out of the way. Like we mentioned, the vulva is the external part outside your vagina. It includes the clitoris, labia (vaginal lips), and the opening to the vagina. The vulva does not include the cervix, womb, or vagina, which is the muscular tube that leads from the cervix to the vulva.
Vulvas come in all shapes and sizes
Not to be cliched but vulvas are like snowflakes and no two vulvas are exactly the same. The size, shape, and color of the vulva vary for each person.
200 million girls and women around the world have suffered female genital mutilation (FGM). Girls as young as nine were seeking labiaplasty (surgery that involves the lips of the vagina being shortened or reshaped) because they were distressed by its appearance (BBC report).
One of the most common misconceptions is that the labia is supposed to be a certain length. Over the last few years, there’s been an increase in women opting for cosmetic surgery to reduce the size of their labia. Now, it’s 100% every person’s right to do what they want with their bodies, but we also want to stress that there is no ‘normal’ way of how a vulva should look. Labia can also be thin or thick, darker or lighter, and sometimes even asymmetrical.
Nine variations of vulvas
We outline nine types of vulvas below but this is by no means a comprehensive list:
Asymmetrical inner lips
One side of your labia minora is bigger than the other, sometimes even with one side hanging further down making it look slightly uneven.
Curved outer lips (aka The Horseshoe)
The outer lips curve into a horseshoe shape, exposing the labia minora but meet evenly at the bottom (like an upside-down horseshoe).
Prominent inner lips
The labia minora here is longer than the labia majora, making the inner lips extend below the outer lips.
Prominent outer lips
The labia majora seem puffy and enlarged and you may still be able to see the inner lips but the outer lips will be significantly more prominent.
Long, dangling inner lips
Here, the labia minora aren’t necessarily bigger than the other lips like they are with the prominent inner lips type, but they hang lower.
Long, dangling outer lips
Unlike those who have prominent outer lips, the outer lips here are thinner rather than puffy, causing them to hang down.
Small open lips
The outer and inner lips are fairly small but your outer lips are parted sometimes meaning the labia minora and clitoris can be seen when you’re standing up.
Small closed lips (the Barbie)
Ironically, this is what is portrayed as a “normal” vagina in mainstream media but it is actually one of the most uncommon shapes. Both your outer and inner lips are small with the outer lips neatly closing over the labia minora.
Visible inner lips (the Tulip)
Often resembling flower buds, the outer flaps naturally sit pulled back, revealing the inner lips.
While we’ve outlined nine types of vulva above, do not be alarmed if yours doesn’t fit exactly in any of the types. Unless it’s causing you pain or discomfort (in which case you should see your gynecologist), it is perfectly normal. Embrace it. Viva la vulva!