For those who weren’t taught the proper anatomical terms of female genitalia in sex ed (ahem – most of us), the inner and outer folds of your vulva are called the labia minora and labia major. Or casually, your inner lips and outer lips, or your inner labia and outer labia.

It seems that for a part of female genitalia shunned from the spotlight for so long, labia are actually pretty fascinating. So, let’s hit off your new relationship with female genitalia with 10 labia facts that every woman should know.

There are two sets of labia: labia minora and labia majora

You’ll find your sets of labia in the southern region of the female reproductive system, toward the vagina and vulva, slightly below the clitoris. The labia minor is the inner lips that connect to the clitoral hood. Labia majora, on the other hand, are the outer lips that grow pubic hair and are more visible – they at least partially envelope the labia minora of most women.

However, it’s normal for labia minora and labia majora to be roughly the same length, which brings us to our next fact – no two sets of labia are the same (learn all the parts of female anatomy).

Labia come in all different shapes and sizes

As unique as a fingerprint, labia come in different shapes and sizes. Some women may have a neat package in which the labia majora envelopes the labia minora. Other women may have a little extra padding in the outer labia. Some women have thin lips, and others have ‘not so minor’ labia minora (where the inner lips protrude from the outer lips). Labia can be short, long, thin, or padded.

All versions of labia are equally beautiful. To confirm your one-of-a-kind labia and see how much ‘normal labia’ vary, visit the Labia Library.

Labia vector

Labia protect your vaginal opening and urethra

As beautiful as your labia are, they don’t exist purely as a garnish on your body. The inner labia are smaller and more delicate. The outer labia are larger and more fleshy. Together they protect the vaginal opening and urethra from bacteria, irritants, and other foreign objects that could cause vaginal infections. The labia also secrete fluid that helps keep the vaginal area clean and lubricated so that you can enjoy better sensations during vaginal penetration and other sexual activity.

Labia are not symmetrical

Guilty of living your life thinking labia are perfectly symmetrical on everyone but you? Better late than never, but consider this your reminder that not all women have perfectly aligned inner and outer lips.

Just like most people have one foot more prominent than the other, labia vary in size, too. It’s normal to have one side of the labia dangling lower than the other. And, again, it’s normal if your inner labia protrudes your outer labia in a not-so-symmetrical fashion. So, you may as well embrace the beauty of your labia and enjoy the perks of a more confident sex life.

Labia change colour and size during sexual arousal

Labia vary in size and colour, and they can change when blood rushes to the vaginal area when you’re sexually aroused. The inner labia are usually smaller than the outer labia and are often a different colour. The outer labia usually become engorged with blood during sexual arousal, making them larger and darker in colour. The labia can also become more sensitive during sexual arousal and clitoral orgasm, making the area more sensitive to touch – there are 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris, after all.


Labia may change with age

The female body is a marvel of biology; however, it’s bound to undergo many changes as it meets the demands of life over time. Along with wrinkles on the forehead and crow’s feet beside the eyes, labia will naturally become thinner, larger, or more wrinkled. Some women may even experience a loss of sensations in their labia as they age.

These changes occur due to various factors, including pregnancy, giving birth (e.g. during vaginal birth, the vagina elongates), menopause, genetics, and weight gain. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone is the same. All women are different, and there is no “normal” when it comes to the size or appearance of the labia. So whether your labia are large or small, wrinkled or smooth, they are still beautiful and perfect just the way they are.

Labia may get itchy, but there are ways to manage

Often when a woman experiences yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis (BV), the labia majora deals with a major share of the itchiness, discomfort and vaginal discharge associated with an off-kilter vaginal pH.

If your labia feel uncomfortably itchy, there are a few things you can do to help manage the itchiness. First, ensure you keep the area clean by washing regularly with soap and water. You may also want to use a mild, unscented laundry detergent for your underwear. If the itchiness is persistent, you can try using a hypoallergenic lubricant or moisturiser. These can help to soothe the skin and reduce irritation.

If the itchiness is severe or accompanied by other symptoms, such as burning or redness, you should see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

Pubic hair on the labia is normal

Despite generational trends pushing many women into habits of ladyscaping to remove all hair between their legs, pubic hair on the outer labia is completely natural. If you’re concerned about the combination of sweat glands on the vulva and thick pubic hair causing you to itch during summer, we support the removal of pubic hair.

But, for any woman who lets their pubic hair grow (whether due to preference or lack of time for maintenance), we salute you. Your body, your rules!