“Each woman’s vulva is unique in size, colour and appearance. No two look the same! It is also normal if there are noticeable differences between the left and right…”.1

Umbrella
What may the Vulva Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Genitals
  • Vulva/Vulval/Vulvar Discomfort/Pain
  • Vulva/Vulval/Vulvar Skin Conditions
  • Vulvovaginal Discomfort/Pain
  • “Down Below/There”
  • “Feminine Pain”
  • “Lady Parts”
  • “Private Parts”
  • “Privates”
  • “Women’s Bits”

Definition

What is the vulva?

DotS the definition of the vulva may vary. The (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health’s (JH) definition is:

“Vulva is the name for the external parts of the female genitals (private parts)”.2

Vulva

What are parts of the vulva?

In Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: What Is the Vulva? [+ Image] the JH explain:

“The parts of the vulva include:

  • Mons pubis. The pad of fatty tissue covered with pubic hair
  • Labia majora. The outer lips, which are covered with pubic hair
  • Labia minora. The inner lips, which are hairless
  • Clitoris and its hood or covering. Positioned at the front of the genital area
  • Vestibule. Immediately surrounds the vaginal opening and the urinary opening
  • Urinary opening (urethral meatus). Above the vaginal opening
  • Vaginal opening (introitus). Below the urinary opening
  • Perineum. The area of skin between the vagina and the anus”.3

Different Differences

Are vulva one-size-fits-all?

No. Vulva are different. In Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: What Is Normal? the JH elaborate on:

Vulva
“Each woman’s vulva is unique in size, colour and appearance. No two look the same! It is also normal if there are noticeable differences between the left and right side of the vulva, especially the labia minora. Vulvas also vary in size, shape and length. All these differences and variations are normal. However, images seen online are often heavily edited to make the vulva look symmetrical and childlike”.4

In What’s Normal: What Is Normal Vulval & Vaginal Anatomy? the (Australian) Caredownthere.com.au elaborate on:

“The vulva area is one of the most variable parts of the body, with more normal variations than noses! The range of “normal appearances” is so wide that even your family doctor may not be sure about whether you are normal “down there”. So there have always been some women who worry about how their vulvas look. To make matters worse, the internet has allowed the fashionistas who make us feel abnormal about our weight and breast size, to also make us feel abnormal about our vulvas. Is nothing sacred?

If everything is working well down there, then it must be normal! So try not to worry about your vulval size or shape: if it works for you, who cares what anyone else thinks?”5

Vulval Problems

Can vulval problems be skin problems?

In Essential Information: Some Facts About the Vulva – Where Do Vulval Problems Belong Medically? [+ Image] Caredownthere.com explain:

“The vulva is part of the skin and most of the things that go wrong there are skin conditions that happen on other parts of the skin. This includes common skin problems like dermatitis, psoriasis and allergic reactions. Some of the skin conditions that involve the vulva are not common on other parts of the skin, and this includes a condition called lichen sclerosus”.6

Female Genital Mutilation

What is female genital mutilation (FGM)?

In International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, 6 February: Ending Female Genital Mutilation By 2030 the United Nations’ definition is:

“Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights, the health and the integrity of girls and women”.7

In Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): Overview the (United Kingdom) NHS explain:

“Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed, but there’s no medical reason for this to be done.

It’s also known as female circumcision or cutting, and by other terms, such as sunna, gudniin, halalays, tahur, megrez and khitan, among others”.8

How common is FGM?

VulvaIn Female Genital Mutilation: Key Facts the WHO elaborate on:

  • “More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated”.9

In Female Genital Mutilation: Who Is At Risk? the WHO also note:

“FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and adolescence, and occasionally on adult women. More than 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk for FGM annually”.10

Mirror, Mirror

How can women detect any changes in the appearance of their vulva?

The JH explain:

“Because it is difficult for women to see their own vulva, many women do not know what their vulva looks like. They are also unsure whether their vulva looks ‘normal’. If you do not know what your vulva looks like, use a mirror so you can look and become familiar with what is normal for you. This will make it easier to detect any changes in appearance, such as changes in colour, bumps, thickening or thinning of the skin, or dry, cracked skin. The Labia Library is a great online resource, with numerous realistic pictures of labia”.11

Labia Library

What is the Labia Library?

In the Labia Library the (Australian) Women’s Health Victoria elaborate on:

“The Labia Library is about showing you that, just like any other part of the body, labia come in all shapes and sizes. They’re also really important in sex and they keep your vagina healthy.

Women’s Health Victoria has developed the Labia Library to bust a few common myths about how normal labia look. There’s also a photo gallery that shows you just how unique everyone’s labia are”.12

Health Care Provider

What if I am worried about something down there?

If you are worried about something – anything – down there, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this. The JH explain:

“If you follow your doctor’s recommended treatments and your symptoms do not improve, see your doctor again. They may refer you to a gynaecologist, a dermatologist or a women’s health specialist. Some larger hospitals have specialist vulval clinics…”.13

Vulval Clinics

What are specialist vulval clinics?

DotC (Depending on the Country) there can be specialist vulval clinics with gynecologists, dermatologists, physiotherapists and other staff specializing in vulval conditions. These clinics may be called:

Vulval Clinics

  • Genito-Urinary Medicine Clinics
  • Multidisciplinary Vulva/Vulval/Vulvar Clinics
  • Vulva/Vulval/Vulvar Clinics
  • Vulvovaginal Clinics

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics related to Vulva?

In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

Where may I find Links related to Vulva?

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: What Is Normal? Last Updated: 06 August 2021 | Last Reviewed: 09 April 20121. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 02 January 2022
  2. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation. Last Updated: 11 May 2021 | Last Reviewed: 24 February 2014. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 02 January 2022
  3. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: What Is the Vulva? Last Updated: 06 August 2021 | Last Reviewed: 09 April 2021. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 02 January 2022
  4. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: What Is Normal? Last Updated: 11 August 2021 | Last Reviewed: 09 April 2021. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 02 January 2022
  5. What’s Normal: What Is Normal Vulval & Vaginal Anatomy? Caredownthere.com.au https://www.caredownthere.com.au/_pages/normal.html Accessed: 02 January 2022
  6. Essential Information: Some Facts About the Vulva – Where Do Vulval Problems Belong Medically? Caredownthere.com.au https://www.caredownthere.com.au/_pages/information_vulva.html Accessed: 02 January 2022
  7. International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, 6 February: Ending Female Genital Mutilation By 2030. United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/observances/female-genital-mutilation-day Accessed: 02 January 2022
  8. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Overview. Page Last Reviewed: 20 May 2019. NHS https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/female-genital-mutilation-fgm/ Accessed: 02 January 2022
  9. Female Genital Mutilation: Key Facts. 03 February 2020. World Health Organization https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation Accessed: 02 January 2022
  10. Female Genital Mutilation: Who Is At Risk? Updated: 03 February 2020. World Health Organization https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation Accessed: 02 January 2022
  11. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: What Is Normal? Last Updated: 06 August 2021 | Last Reviewed: 09 April 2021. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 02 January 2022
  12. Labia Library. Women’s Health Victoria http://www.labialibrary.org.au/ Accessed: 02 January 2022
  13. Vulva & Vaginal Irritation: Odour. Last Updated: 06 August 2021 | Last Reviewed: 09 April 2021. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina-ovaries-uterus/vulva-vaginal-irritation Accessed: 02 January 2022

Topic Last Updated: 02 January 2022 – Topic Last Reviewed: 02 January 2022
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