There are few women who have checked out their vulva using a hand-held mirror and liked what they saw. In the largest ever study conducted on vaginas and vulvas of women, researchers have said that there is nothing called a “normal vagina”. This study was published in the latest issue of the journal BJOG.
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A team of researchers from Lucern Cantonal Hospital in Switzerland looked at 657 women aged between 15 and 84. Lead author Anne Kreklau and her colleagues meticulously measured the inner and outer labia, vaginal opening, clitoris and the perineum of the women. When they compiled their results, a wide variation was noted. No average size or shape could be deduced from the results that could fit most of the women the researchers explain.
The two lips or the labia varied widely, they write. The outer labia or the labia majora was between 12mm and 180mm in length among the women. Similarly the inner labia or the labia minora varied between 5mm to 100mm in length. The clitoris was between 1mm and 22mm and its length varied between 0.5mm to 34mm. The vaginal opening size varied between 6 to 75mm.
The researchers explain that this wide variation in size shows biological differences and emphasize those entirely healthy vaginas and vulvae can look entirely different from each other and that is normal. They explain that no vagina is “wrong or weird”. All the women measured were Caucasians in this study and the authors plan a more detailed study with women of different ethnicities.
There is a major surge in labiaplasties or plastic surgery procedures to correct the shape and size of the vaginas and vulvae. In a 2016 survey 443 Australian GPs were interviewed. Of these 97 percent had reported that they cared for patients who were anxious over the appearance of their genitalia and if their vulva looked normal. A report released in 2017 by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery said that there was a 39 percent increase in women who went under the knife between 2015 and 2016 for a vulval plastic surgery or labiaplasty. For most of these women the common complaint was that their vulvas were asymmetrical or too large.
The labia and the vulva that are shown on screen, in anatomical illustrations and in porn are not the standard, the experts add, and women should stop trying to make their vulvae look like what they consider “beautiful”.