Aunt Vadge: fordyce bumps – how do I tell sexual partners what they are?

Hi Aunt Vadge, 

Let me start… I am 21 years old, and I have fordyce bumps on my outer labia and around my clitoral area. These are hardly noticeable hard little white bumps that don’t hurt, they aren’t contagious, and they are fairly common with women (and men alike, although men have them usually on the shaft of their penis.) 

Anyways, I say all this because dealing with them in my life is hard. I am a sexually active person who also tends to masturbate frequently. I have had the people I am with ask me about them and I don’t know how to react. Because at times they bother me. 

So, how do you explain to a partner about something abnormal on your body that you really don’t know how to explain?


Hi Bumpy,

What a great question. You are dead right about the Fordyce bumps and how everyone has them, though some are more obvious than others. Yours are clearly more noticeable than most.

Explaining something uncommon on your body to people is sometimes really awkward, because unless the person you are talking to has had something stick out on themselves before, they are usually quick to jump to conclusions and be judgemental.

You seem to have it completely under control with the ‘they aren’t contagious, they are fairly common, and men have them too’, but you can show them to your sexual partner at the time by pulling their skin tight on their penis or labia, and in fact showing them the small bumps on their nipples. These small sebaceous glands are a normal and natural part of your skin, and are placed on areas that need to be kept supple – our genitals, nipples and lips.

It isn’t too hard to find these bumps once you start looking, so if it was me, I’d find the equivalent bumps on their body (taking the focus squarely back to them, just secretly), and once you find them, say, “That’s what they are, but mine are bigger than yours and it just happens to be one of life’s great mysteries!” And leave it at that. That takes away the ‘are they contagious?’ question, because clearly everyone has them.

Good luck explaining away your bumps, my dear!

Warmest regards,
Aunt Vadge

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