Aunt Vadge: did I stretch my labia too far?

Hi Aunt Vadge,

I’m a virgin college student. I masturbated a lot when I was younger, since before I knew what it was, mostly on one side of my labia. I just knew it felt good without understanding it.

When I was sixteen, I noticed that one side of my labia was bigger and looked more “stretched out”. So I stopped, except for maybe once or twice a year. But as I’m in college thinking about sex now, I’m worried that my one side will prevent me from having sex or make it dangerous.

What should I do?

Yours,
Terrified
Age 18, Boston, USA

______

Dear Terrified,

When I was about 11 or 12, I started pulling on my inner labia because it felt good. Like you, I had no idea what I was doing and it wasn’t even sexual – it was more like pulling on my earlobe or scratching an itch than anything. It just felt good. Soon after that, I realised that my labia were starting to sort of stick out, and I absolutely freaked out and thought I had ruined my body forever with my needless fiddling.

I was very embarrassed of it, thinking I had done something wrong and I was somehow now ruined forever. I never spoke to a single soul about it, and nor would I have showed it to anybody unless I was dying and it was necessary.

I hadn’t ruined my labia. Here’s why.

When you go through puberty, your vagina changes. Your inner labia not only start to protrude out (some more than others), but they go wrinkly and can start to darken in colour. The flesh changes, and while it morphs, it can cause you to want to touch it in the same way you might feel the itch of a new tooth coming through. Do you remember getting a new tooth? There’s that super itchy phase when it is on its way out. Or when a cut is healing and it becomes unbearably itchy. Skin becomes itchy and ‘active’ when it’s doing stuff, and at puberty, your labia is changing from one form to another.

These changes to your labia are caused by hormone changes in your body, and you’ll very likely find that your vulva starts to look much more like your female relatives, at least on one side of the family, just like every other part of your body. You have inherited your labia. It is entirely possible that other women in your family have one longer labia, though good luck trying to prove it!

You could easily live your whole life never seeing anyone else’s vulva, which leaves little opportunity to compare your labia. The only vulva you might have ever seen is your mother’s, and if you have sisters, them too. Possibly friends, but by the time you get to puberty, nobody is really offering up their vag for looks by their friends, because I can assure you, most of them have the exact same thing going on.

So what you have experienced is completely normal and so common that it’s even happened to me too, and while you can deliberately stretch out your labia and make them big and dangly, it is a lot harder work than just pulling on the lips. (Read about how certain tribal women do it, if you want to know how hard it is!)

Many women have irregular labia, with one side bigger or different to the other, just the way one of our feet, breasts, ears and so on are slightly different to its opposite. Sometimes the size difference is quite big, but even still, unless this causes you physical discomfort or the difference is so great is causes you a huge amount of embarrassment, it isn’t going to stop you doing anything fun like getting yourself laid.

There is simply no need to feel terrified – your vagina and vulva are very elastic and durable, so you can consider yourself to be 100 per cent normal, and your labia to be just fine the way they are, and in fact you were, in a sense, born like this. This is in no way dangerous.

You will not have any problems at all during sex, so knock yourself out! Don’t give your labia a second thought. The longer one will be extra sensitive, suckable, and be a characteristic of your vag that makes it uniquely yours. The benefits of long, luxurious labia are many, since the nerve endings and moisture-retaining capacities of the labia mean sex can be a tiny bit more sensual – longer labia are associated with pleasurable sensations. The humans who love vaginas love all vaginas, not just the tidy, tucked-in, even-labia’d vaginas.

The only thing you need to be careful of with longer labia is making sure they are properly parted when Moses or Maria puts something inside your vagina – you don’t want the labia to cover your vaginal entrance, blocking it, and causing damage. This just takes a little bit of practice, but it’s really no big deal at all.

Labia, when swollen and aroused, part themselves anyway, with the wetness guiding the way. If you haven’t had sex much or any at all, you may want to read our guides on sex, fingering, and cunnilingus so you are able to have better sex sooner. My only recommendation to you at this point would be to use lube so your lovely labia don’t get hurt.

Oh, and never stop masturbating. You can’t ruin your own vagina. Masturbating is excellent, and you should get very, very good at it.

Warmest regards and vag love,
Aunt Vadge

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

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