The labia are part of the external female sexual organs and are double, i.e. in pairs.
A distinction is made between the outer, large and the inner, small labia (Labia majora pudendi and Labia minora pudendi). They are very variable in their shape, length and characteristics and differ from woman to woman.
The large (outer) labia
The large, outer labia (Labia majora pudendi) run from the pubic mound to the dam, they cover both the clitoris (clitoris) and the urethral opening, as well as the vaginal entrance and thus have a certain protective function. The labia majora consist of a relatively thick pad of fatty tissue, which is covered by skin and forms the so-called pubic cleft (Rima pudendi).
Find out more about this topic at: The labia.
The small (inner) labia
The labia minora (Labia minora pudendi) delimit the sides of the vaginal vestibule and unite at the clitoris (clitoris). They run apart at the front in two folds, of which the front fold leads to the clitoral hood (Prepuce clitoridis) united.
In contrast to the large, outer labia, they are much thinner and free of fatty tissue, but lightly pigmented on the inside and rich in sebum glands. According to the textbook, the small labia are covered by the large labia in most women, but in reality the size ratio between the outer and inner labia is very variable and the shape also varies greatly. In many women, the labia minora protrude clearly from under the outer labia; they are excessively pronounced. There is no illness-related reason for this, but many of those affected are afraid or ashamed. The reasons for such a "hypertrophy“The labia minora are mostly genetically predisposed, but it is also normal that they grow in length as we age. If these enlarged labia are bothersome, it is possible to reduce the size of the labia.
Read more on this topic at:
- Inner labia larger than outer - what to do?
- The inner labia
- Shrink the labia
Labia of different sizes
The labia are part of the external female genital organs and occur in double pairs. There are two outer and two inner labia. The outer labia are also known as the labia majora and the inner labia are known as the labia minora. However, this is often not the correct anatomical representation, as the inner labia can also be larger than the outer ones.
However, the appearance of larger inner labia is by no means dangerous or abnormal. The proportions of the inner and outer labia vary from woman to woman and it is quite normal for the inner labia to be larger than the outer one.
The labia may differ in shape, color and size from woman to woman. It is perfectly normal. The right and left labia of a vagina can also vary in size.
If women are bothered by the fact that their inner labia is larger than the outer one, this can be treated surgically. These interventions are usually carried out by plastic and aesthetic surgeons.
You can find more about this on our website Shrink the labia
Complaints orPain in the genital organs is often caused by bacteria or fungi that cause inflammation in the area.
These are often transmitted through sexual contact and, in addition to inflammation, can also lead to local swelling.
Also read on this topic: Swelling in the vaginal entrance
A painful inflammation in the area of the labia is often called bartholinitis. This leads to inflammation of the Bartholin glands, which are located below the large labia and produce secretions when sexually aroused. This secretion can no longer drain away. Cyst formation is possible. This is caused by the accumulation of fluid that is covered by a thin film of skin. If these inflammatory processes occur, touching or even sexual intercourse is very painful. Affected women mostly observe unilateral inflammation or swelling of the labia.
Pus can fill the discharge ducts, which increases the inflammation and can even lead to side symptoms such as fever. Clarification by the gynecologist is essential here. Especially since Bartholinitis can develop into a chronic course.
The bartholinitis itself is due to one antibiotic therapy well treatable. Should it lead to the said formation of pus in a cyst come so is a minor surgery needed to remove this cyst. This removal is usually only in older women further investigated since the emergence of a malignant Tumor is considered unlikely in this area for young women.
However, pain is also part of the clinical picture of Vulvar carcinoma. So a malignant tumor (Squamous cell carcinoma) in the field of large labia. In some cases, however, the labia minora and the clitoris to be affected. Pain in this clinical picture occur either spontaneously, but also after the act of sexual intercourse. Straight through that Spread of the tumor in adjacent areas such as Intestines or bladder It comes to Painful urination or that Ejection of feces. Vulvitis, on the other hand, is harmless, but still painful.
this is a Inflammation of the vulva which is known to include the large and small labia. The cause is Vulvitis mostly through Irritation to the skin. This is caused by clothing that is too tight, with lingerie and jeans pants that are too tight. But irritation from fragrances or intimate sprays is also possible. In addition, is a allergic reaction to latex e.g. conceivable through condoms. Treatment usually consists of eliminating the relevant triggering factors as mentioned above.
There are many reasons for uncomfortable itching of the labia. The itching as such, even if it is uncomfortable, is not always associated with a disease or inflammation. However, if the itching is constantly recurring, then there may be a disease.
Lactic acid bacteria have a protective function in the area of the female vagina and protect against pathogens with their acidic environment. Hormonal changes (menopause) or antibiotics often cause these lactic acid bacteria to be inhibited. Their protective function is thus lost.
Itching in the area of the labia can also be a symptom of a malignant tumor disease. In the case of carcinoma of the vulva, for example, severe, recurring itching occurs, which is often accompanied by bloody discharge.
Strong, recurring itching is usually the result of a bacterial or viral infection or a fungal attack. As mentioned above, itching in combination with other symptoms has various causes. If severe itching is in the foreground in combination with pain, it may be an infection with herpes viruses which leads to the formation of small blisters in the area of the labia. A fungal infection, mostly caused by Candida albicans (Yeast), in addition to the itching, leads to a kind of burning sensation and discharge (Flour) in the area of the vagina. Chlamydia, on the other hand, which also cause itching, are transmitted through sexual intercourse. Therapy is also here with appropriate antibiotics and antimycotics (anti-fungal medication).
The causes of sore labia are also very different. Often the reasons are already very banal. Underwear that is too tight or fragrances with a subsequent allergic reaction are often the cause of sore, swollen labia. In the case of infections caused by bacteria that cause itching, reddening of the wound is often made worse by scratching with the hands. The reason is that there are often other pathogens under the fingernails.
To clarify the cause and a therapy that can be applied to it, it is necessary to see a gynecologist. However, itching can be relieved by taking a cold shower. Sitz baths have also proven to be very efficient. Additives for the Sitz baths should be clarified beforehand by a doctor in order to avoid further irritation.
Sexual intercourse can cause pain, which is why particular caution is required here. Contact with latex can also cause further irritation.
Cyst on the labia
Cysts are cavities that are filled with fluid, blood, pus or sebum and surrounded by a capsule. They mostly occur in tissues such as the skin, the breast or on internal organs.
If cysts are found on the labia, this often has an effect on the nearby Bartholin gland. The paired glands are located in the back of the labia and open into the vaginal vestibule. The glands are responsible for secreting secretions during sexual arousal or intercourse. Secretion builds up, which in turn can lead to swelling in the female genital area.
Often the women do not suffer from any pain. The cysts only become noticeable when you feel them (e.g. the size of a chicken egg, rounded swelling). However, since the cysts are located relatively close to the anus, in extremely rare cases inflammation of the Bartholin's glands can occur, which in turn can be very painful. Patients with such symptoms complain of pain when walking and even sitting.
If there are no symptoms as a result of the cyst, the cyst is considered harmless and no mandatory treatment is necessary. However, if a painful inflammation occurs, antibiotics or pain reliever medication are usually used. In rare cases, minor surgery may also be necessary to treat the abscess.
Read on our site Cyst formation as part of bartholinitis
Pimples on the labia
Pubic pimples are more common than you might think. If they can be found in the area of the labia, this can often be a very painful event. Most of the time, the pimples can be found on the inside of the outer labia. Even if the pubic area acts as an unusual area for pimples to develop, it is an absolutely natural occurrence.
In the area of the genital area there are many germs and bacteria and in combination with the 'warm climate' this turns out to be the perfect prerequisite for pimple formation. Another reason for the development of pimples is intimate shaving with a blade that is too blunt. This can cause severe irritation to areas on the labia. Another cause can be shower gels that destroy the natural intimate flora. It is recommended to use only lukewarm water and mild soaps to clean the genital area. This should not cause any discomfort.
Pimples in the genital area should only be squeezed out if you are sure that it is exclusively a clogged sebum gland. An anti-inflammatory ointment can then be applied. The usual treatment options for pimples in other parts of the body should never be transferred to the genital area, as this has a completely different milieu and thus common treatments often lead to a worsening of the situation. An ointment that is also suitable for use in the intimate area is the zinc ointment. It has a disinfectant effect and dries out the pimples.
To prevent pimples in the genital area, various creams are recommended, which are usually applied after shaving. However, care should be taken to ensure that the cream or product does not contain alcohol, as this only irritates the corresponding zones more.
Also read the article: The sebum glands on the labia.
Lump on the labia
A lump on the labia is usually due to a blocked sebum gland. Several sebum glands can be found on the inner labia. They secrete a fatty secretion on the hair roots of the labia hair. If one or more of these glands is blocked, a nodular thickening occurs, which is usually slightly yellow in color.
Another reason for a bump on the labia minora is abscesses. An abscess is caused by a blockage in the duct of the Bartholini's glands. The Bartholini glands lie in pairs on the side of the labia. When excited, their ducts secrete a liquid secretion into the back third of the labia. A blockage of these ducts occurs relatively often and should be examined by a specialist, as it can also easily become infected.
Rarely, but quite possible, the nub can also be traced back to a tumor disease in the vaginal area. If the lump does not regress by itself, a specialist should be consulted. In the case of cancer in the vaginal area of the woman, the lumps or ulcers do not appear as a single phenomenon, but with plenty of accompanying symptoms. These include, for example, bloody discharge, painful urination or stains in the genital area.
Abscess on the labia
An abscess on the labia is usually caused by inflammation of the Bartholin's glands. The function of the Bartholin glands is the formation of moist secretions during female arousal. The Bartholin glands are paired glands and are located in the back of the vulva. They have two ducts that open into the back third of the inner labia. These ducts can easily clog, so that the secretion produced cannot flow away - this leads to a jam.
If the drainage ducts remain clogged for a long period of time, this can lead to enormous backwater and inflammation of the drainage ducts. Abscesses form in the area of the posterior inner labia. This can be an extremely painful event and should be checked by a gynecologist. A lot of pus accumulates in the abscess. The abscess can sometimes resolve on its own, which usually results in a quick relief of the pain.
If the abscesses do not open on their own, surgery may even be necessary in some cases. As a rule, however, this is only a minor procedure, which, however, must be carried out under absolutely sterile conditions. The abscess is cut open and then sutured so that it can dry out.
You can find more about treatment at Treatment of an abscess
Cancer of the labia is a rare, malignant tumor disease of the external genital organs of women. Most of these tumors affect the labia majora, and more rarely the labia minora and the clitoral region. As a preventive measure, vaccination against cervical cancer between the ages of 9 and 14 is recommended.
The causes of cancer in the vulva area are still largely unexplained. Sexually transmitted infections (e.g. herpes viruses, chlamydia, syphilis) are counted as risk factors. Smoking, HIV or special medication can also increase the individual risk of illness.
The most common symptom is itching. Other symptoms include painful urination, burning and pain in the vulvar region, as well as induration, spots, or bloody discharge. However, these symptoms are not indicative of a clear diagnosis, but could have been caused by other, harmless causes. A clear diagnosis is only possible through clinical or medical examinations. Lumps and ulcers can be felt and often also represented by imaging methods.
The therapy of the cancer depends on the location and how it has already spread. However, it usually has to be surgically removed. Alternatively, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be the treatment of choice.
The labia burns
Burning of the labia is an extremely unpleasant event. In addition to burning, it can also lead to severe pain and itching. The symptoms usually have one and the same cause:
- Wearing and thus rubbing too tight clothing in the pubic area
- Lingerie that is made from synthetic materials and which may have skin intolerances
- too frequent, intensive washing
- Washing with unsuitable lotions
- The pubic area is very sensitive, especially after the fresh intimate shave.
- Allergic reactions, for example to latex (in condoms), to detergents or to medicines, are rare, but quite possible
Other causes can also be infections or diseases that cause burning labia:
- Vaginal fungus
- Liver disease
However, these examples represent very rare causes of burning labia. Despite everything, if there is no improvement, a doctor should be consulted to examine the symptoms.
Metabolic diseases (e.g. diabetes mellitus), hormonal changes (menopause) or psychological factors (e.g. stress) are not a direct trigger for the burning of the labia, but can become factors to be taken into account if they arise. The natural defense functions can be reduced by drying out the skin and mucous membranes, whereby bacteria can lead to an infection more quickly.
The labia can tear due to various internal and external factors. The cracks are usually accompanied by unpleasant, severe pain when touched, moved and especially when urinating.
The causes include factors such as mechanical damage (e.g. sexual intercourse, childbirth, etc.) as well as incorrect use of medication, drugs and ointments.
If you notice cracks in the labia, you should act as soon as possible. Depending on the size of the tear, it must be treated or even sewn by the doctor. For small cracks, special creams and regular cleaning and care are usually sufficient. Small and large cracks can also be treated with medication.
If you are unsure how big the crack is and which treatment is the right one in your own case, you should consult a gynecologist. Incorrect treatment of an open wound in the genital area can lead to enormous complications, as inflammatory substances can get into the bloodstream.
Colors of the labia
A woman's labia may differ from other women's labia in a number of ways. In addition to the surface structure, one of these characteristics is also the color.
In 80% of all women, the color of the labia is darker compared to the surrounding skin. So this is a perfectly natural trait. As a rule, the labia are slightly pinkish-brown in color. However, the color can change in special situations.
The labia may turn a deep purple-reddish color during pregnancy. This is because the intimate area of a pregnant woman has better blood supply. Other reasons can also be an excessive release of hormones or varicose veins.
A so-called "flush" often occurs after intercourse. This leads to reddening of the skin, which is why the labia develop a bright reddish color. Another, rare reason for the bright reddish color can also be an infection in the genital area. If the color does not return to normal after intercourse, this should be examined if necessary.
The labia may also have a slightly whitish color. The reason for this is possibly a fungal disease or other skin diseases.So this feature should be observed. However, a slightly whitish color can also be completely natural.
What are dysplastic labia?
Dysplasia is a non-malignant cell change that is partially a precursor to malignant cancer. Because they are not painful, patients often go unnoticed. If the dysplasias are left untreated, they can develop into malignant tumors. The cause is usually sexually transmitted virus infections.
In dysplastic labia, cell changes can be found in the pubic area. These can occur in very different ways. Mostly they are diagnosed on the basis of differently colored spots. If there is a suspicion of pubic dysplasia, this can be examined with a tissue sample or swabs.
What is a labia correction?
A labia surgery is a surgical procedure that is used to treat the labia that are too large. There are many reasons for such an intervention. Usually labia corrections are done due to discomfort with the external appearance. However, everyday activities such as wearing tight clothing, riding a bicycle or having sexual intercourse can also lead to pain and swelling of the external genital organs.
With a labia correction, also called loaf reduction, excess skin is removed and the labia are then reduced to the natural size, adapted to the patient's needs. However, the function of the labia should not be disregarded. Labia that are too small can lead to dehydration, inflammation or the unwanted penetration of foreign bodies. Therefore, individual, detailed preliminary examinations and discussions with the doctor being treated are necessary.
There is no change in pleasure behavior after a labia correction. Circulatory disorders in the vulva area also usually do not occur. The scars are usually no longer visible after a while.
The treatment can be carried out under general anesthesia or with local anesthesia, depending on the patient's wishes. The treatment is usually carried out on an outpatient basis. The costs are usually not covered by the health insurance.
In middle adulthood or as part of weight gain, fat can be deposited in the pubic mound, which leads to enlarged pubic mounds. This can and is gladly treated in combination with labia corrections through surgical interventions.
Leukoplakia of the labia
Leukoplasia is a whitish area of the mucous membrane in the mouth or in the female genital area that cannot be washed off. Leukoplasias are caused by physical or chemical stimuli as well as internal diseases and skin diseases.
As a rule, leukoplasia does not cause any symptoms, which is why they are often discovered by chance or even go undetected. Treatment usually consists of finding the cause and treating it. If there is no improvement within a few weeks, a tissue sample must be carried out.
Herpes on the labia
Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases worldwide. The cause is a viral disease that is usually caused by unprotected sexual intercourse.
Symptoms of the disease are painful itching and tingling skin blisters in the genital area from the genital organs to the anus. In addition, tumors can occasionally be found on the genital organs. As the infection progresses, more and more small blisters that are filled with fluid can be found in the genital area. Furthermore, reddened skin areas appear. A feeling of illness such as fever, headache and body aches can rarely be found.
Herpes can be unequivocally diagnosed by taking and then examining the fluid from the vesicles. Most of the time, however, the typical external features are already relatively clear.
Once the herpes virus has entered the human body, it remains there for life in the nerve ganglia and can reappear under special physical conditions such as stress or when taking immunosuppressive medication. The initial treatment is usually carried out with medication in the form of tablets or ointments. This can at least prevent the virus from spreading in the best possible way.
Herpes is an infectiously contagious disease that is transmitted through infected body fluids.