The outer labia


The labia, also called the labia, are part of a woman's external sex. A distinction is made between the large, outer labia and the small, inner labia. When looking at the female genital organs from the outside, only the outer labia are usually visible, as these usually completely cover the small, inner labia. However, there are also many women in whom the inner labia protrudes from between the outer labia.

Their main function is to protect the internal sexual organs, such as the vagina, from external influences and from drying out.

The anatomy

The outer labia are, as in the inner labia, counted among the external sexual organs of a woman. In general it can be said that the outer labia are folds of skin made up of fat, connective tissue, sweat and sebum glands and smooth muscles. In addition, many vessels and nerves run through the labia.

Anatomically, the inner and outer side of the outer labia can also be distinguished. The outer side is hairy, dry and pigmented. In comparison, the inner side of the outer labia is more like a mucous membrane. There is hardly any or no hair here, there are hardly any sweat marks and the skin is rather reddened, soft and moist. Due to the high number of tactile bodies in the outer labia, the outer as well as the inner labia are very sensitive to stimuli.

The labia extend from the mons pubis towards the perineum and merge into one another at the rear part, near the perineum. This transition is also called “Commissura labiorum posterior” in medical jargon.

The function

The outer labia usually cover the inner labia, the clitoris, the urethral opening and the vagina. Their main function is to protect these body parts from external pathogens and from dehydration. Because the outer labia are made up of a strong fat pad, they also offer mechanical protection to the body parts mentioned.

The outer labia also have an impact on sexual intercourse. For example, they can swell when having sexual intercourse. This will expose the entrance to the vagina. After intercourse, the labia swell again and reach their original size.

Read more on this topic at: The labia.

Symptoms on the outer labia

The itching

Itching in the area of ​​the external female sex is a frequently occurring symptom in women and can be caused by very different causes.

The normal environment in the area of ​​the external genital organs and the vagina also includes bacteria - mostly lactic acid bacteria. However, these bacteria are not harmful, but perform essential tasks in the area of ​​the female genital area. For example, they are responsible for the acidic environment in the vagina and thus protect against harmful germs.
Various influences such as bleeding, antibiosis or other external influences can prevent the bacteria from functioning and thus the protection can no longer be maintained. Without bacteria, the external genital organs, which also include the outer labia, are a good place for fungi, parasites and bacteria that are not part of the normal vaginal flora to implant.The colonization of any pathogens can ultimately lead to extreme itching.

Other causes of itching in the area of ​​the external genital organs can be diabetes mellitus, skin diseases, psychological causes (e.g. overcare) or precancerous stages. In the case of persistent or recurring itching, a gynecologist should be consulted to determine the exact cause.

The burning

The burning sensation in the area of ​​the external genital organs is usually a painful event. Burning pain is often triggered by a herpes virus. Alternatively, burning, painful pain can also be triggered by trichomoniasis or streptococcal bacteria.

If different antivirals or antibiotic drugs show no effect over a longer period of time, this suggests the cause of "vulvodynia" or "burning vulva". The exact cause of this condition is unknown - however, it is strongly suspected that it may be associated with irritative dermatitis. This is an intolerance reaction of the skin to various external influences. Despite positive bacterial cultures in the genital area, antibiotics seem to have no effect, which is why "vulvodynia" is often a long-term, persistent disease.

Find out more about this at: The vagina burns - these are the causes.

The swelling

The swelling of the labia can have different causes. On the one hand, the outer, as well as the inner labia, swell during sexual arousal. That is perfectly natural. However, the swelling of the labia can also have a pathological cause. Long-term swelling of the labia may indicate inflammation caused by pathological agents (fungi, bacteria, viruses, etc.). However, in most cases this can be treated quickly and efficiently with medication.

By far the most common cause of swelling in the external genital area is Bartholinitis. This is an inflammation of the ducts of the Bartholin's glands. If only one side of the paired labia is affected, this usually indicates such a bartholinitis. If an inflammation of the Bartholin glands is suspected, a gynecologist or family doctor should be consulted in order to avoid possible recurrences and thus Bartholin's cysts.

Find out all about the topic here: Bartholinitis.

The pimple

Pimples on the outer labia are not primarily a cause for concern. As in almost every other part of the body, pimples filled with pus can also develop on the labia. Any pimples are due to the hormonal balance and the sebum glands it affects. Sebum glands can be found all over the body, including in the area of ​​the outer labia.

Another cause of pimples in the area of ​​the outer labia can be the intimate shaving and the resulting ingrown hairs. Good hygiene is important to avoid pimples after shaving your intimate area.

If you are unsure whether it is actually a pimple or not a wart, you should consult a gynecologist. In addition, good intimate hygiene and the avoidance of very tight-fitting clothing in the area of ​​the external genital organs must be observed.

The color

The color of the labia can vary greatly from woman to woman. There is no “normal variant” for this. In a large number of women, however, the color of the labia is slightly darker than their normal skin tone. The color of the labia usually only changes over the course of life in special situations, such as during sexual intercourse or pregnancy.

During intercourse, the labia swell, making them appear larger and slightly darker. However, this appearance quickly disappears again after intercourse. Further external changes in the area of ​​the labia are observed during pregnancy. During pregnancy, it is not uncommon for a dark discoloration of the labia to be observed, which is caused by increased melanin storage and therefore has no pathological value. This dark coloration can persist even after pregnancy.

The eczema

Eczema is the term used to describe inflammatory diseases of the skin, which are rarely found in the genital area. They are characterized by severe itching, burning and sometimes sore spots. Eczema is not a risk of infection, but should be examined by a gynecologist to avoid possible chronicity.

Possible causes of eczema in the area of ​​the external genital organs can be new care products (shower gel, intimate lotions, etc.) or new underwear. If one of these causes is suspected, the care products or underwear should be changed.

Eczema rarely heals on its own. In the acute phase, eczema is usually treated with an ointment containing cortisone. Generally tolerated intimate lotions are recommended for quick improvement.

Find out all about the topic here: The eczema in the genital area.

The reduction of the outer labia

Usually the outer, large labia hide the inner, small labia. However, it is also not uncommon for the inner labia to be slightly larger and therefore protrude between the large labia. But very large, outer labia are also common in women. A large number of women find these external appearances unaesthetic, which is why they often undergo aesthetic interventions. But physical impairments can also be caused by too large inner and outer labia.

Learn what to oppose larger inner labia can do.

If the outer labia are reduced in size, excess skin and fat tissue is removed. This is usually done through a small, usually outpatient, surgical procedure that is similar to liposuction. After removing the excess fat and the skin, the remaining skin is sutured again so that hardly any external features of the procedure remain. Such a surgical procedure is carried out by plastic and aesthetic surgeons.

Find out more about this topic here: The reduction of the labia.