“Each woman’s vulva is unique in size, shape, colour and appearance. It’s normal for the left and right sides of the vulva to be different in shape and size, especially the…”.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”

Vulva and Vagina

What is the difference between the vulva and the vagina?

In Vulva and Vagina: What Is the Difference Between Your Vulva and Vagina? [+ Image] the JH note:

“Some people think the vulva is the vagina, but they are different. Your vulva is the external part of the female genitals that you can see. Your vagina is inside your body. It extends from your vulva to the start of your uterus. It’s where your period flows down from the uterus, where you can have sexual intercourse (or other types of penetration) and where babies pass through during childbirth”.2

Vulva

What are parts of the vulva?

In Vulva and Vagina: What Is the Difference Between Your Vulva and Vagina? [+ Image] the JH explain:

“Your vulva includes:

  • the area covered with pubic hair (mons pubis)
  • the outer lips, which are covered with pubic hair (labia majora)
  • the inner lips, which are not covered with pubic hair (labia minora)
  • the clitoris and its hood
  • the area around your vaginal and urinary openings (vestibule)
  • the urinary opening (where wee comes out)
  • the vaginal opening
  • the area of skin between your vagina and anus (perineum)”.3

Different Differences

Are vulva one-size-fits-all?

Vulva are different. In Vulva and Vagina: What’s Normal? Appearance the JH elaborate on:


Vulva“Each woman’s vulva is unique in size, shape, colour and appearance. It’s normal for the left and right sides of the vulva to be different in shape and size, especially the labia minora. Many images you see online are 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?

In Female Genital Mutilation: How Prevalent Is FGM? UNICEF note:

“While the exact number of girls and women to have undergone FGM worldwide remains unknown, at least 230 million girls and women from 31 countries across three continents have been subjected to the practice”.9

In Female Genital Mutilation: Who Is At Risk?, dated 05 February 2024, the World Health Organization also note:

“FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and adolescence, and occasionally on adult women. According to available data from 30 countries where FGM is practiced in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, and some countries in the Middle East and Asia, more than 200 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to the practice with more than 3 million girls estimated to be at risk of FGM annually. FGM is therefore of global concern”.10

Mirror, Mirror

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

The JH explain:

“It’s a good idea to see what your vulva looks like. You can use a mirror to see what is normal for you. This will make it easier to detect any changes in appearance, for example, changes in colour or skin. The Labia Library is a great online resource that shows a range of ‘normal’ photos of labia”.11

Labia Library

What is the Labia Library about?

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

Vulval Clinics

What are specialist vulval clinics?

DotC (Depending on the Country) there may 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 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 are worried about the smell, or have symptoms such as itching, burning, irritation, soreness, painful sex or pain when you wee, see your doctor”.13

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics A-Z related to Vulva?

In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

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Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Vulva and Vagina: What’s Normal? Appearance. Last Updated: 07 December 2023 | Last Reviewed: 26 April 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina/vulva-and-vagina Accessed: 05 April 2024
  2. Vulva and Vagina: What Is the Difference Between Your Vulva and Vagina? Last Updated: 07 December 2023 | Last Reviewed: 26 April 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina/vulva-and-vagina Accessed: 05 April 2024
  3. Vulva and Vagina: What Is the Difference Between Your Vulva and Vagina? Last Updated: 07 December 2023 | Last Reviewed: 26 April 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina/vulva-and-vagina Accessed: 05 April 2024
  4. Vulva and Vagina: What’s Normal? Appearance. Last Updated: 07 December 2023 | Last Reviewed: 26 April 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina/vulva-and-vagina Accessed: 05 April 2024
  5. What’s Normal: What Is Normal Vulval & Vaginal Anatomy? Caredownthere.com.au https://www.caredownthere.com.au/_pages/normal.html Accessed: 05 April 2024
  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: 05 April 2024
  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: 05 April 2024
  8. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) Overview. Page Last Reviewed: 27 September 2022. NHS https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/female-genital-mutilation-fgm/ Accessed: 05 April 2024
  9. Female Genital Mutilation: How Prevalent Is FGM? UNICEF https://www.unicef.org/protection/female-genital-mutilation Accessed: 05 April 2024
  10. Female Genital Mutilation: Who Is At Risk? Updated: 05 February 2024. World Health Organization https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/female-genital-mutilation Accessed: 05 April 2024
  11. Vulva and Vagina: What’s Normal? Appearance. Last Updated: 07 December 2023 | Last Reviewed: 26 April 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina/vulva-and-vagina Accessed: 05 April 2024
  12. Labia Library. Women’s Health Victoria http://www.labialibrary.org.au/ Accessed: 05 April 2024
  13. Vulva and Vagina: What’s Normal? Smell. Last Updated: 07 December 2023 | Last Reviewed: 26 April 2023. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/vulva-vagina/vulva-and-vagina Accessed: 05 April 2024
Topic Last Updated: 28 May 2024 – Topic Last Reviewed: 05 April 2024

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