When you were a kid, you couldn’t resist comparing outie and innie belly buttons with your friends. After all, everyone knew you either had one or the other, and you gotta admit, it was kinda fun in a weird way.
But now, get ready to have your world rocked because that’s *not* the only body part that can be either an outie or an innie. Apparently, your vagina can, too. (It’s official: Everything I’ve been told is a lie.)
That’s right—you can have an outie vagina or an innie vagina.
Okay, but what’s the difference between an outie and an innie?
Basically, an “outie vagina” is when your labia minora (the two small folds of skin that lie inside the labia majora, or your “inner labia”) protrude through the labia majora. Not so surprisingly, an “innie vagina” is when the opposite happens.
What does it mean if I have an outie or an innie vagina?
Absolutely nothing, according to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynaecology, reproductive sciences at Yale University. “It certainly doesn’t make any difference that I know about, and I’ve only been in practice for about 40 years,” she says. “Some people have very prominent labia majora; others have very prominent labia minora, and it’s all normal.”
Not only is your labia length totally normal—no matter what it is—but it’s only recently that women started thinking about the way their labia looked at all. Women started checking out the situation down there only after they began waxing their vulvas, she says. That’s when they could see what their labia looked like and when they started comparing their labia to those of other women.
“Before, people had pubic hair, so you didn’t see these things, but now, people can see it,” Dr. Minkin explains. “…Women started worrying about what their vulvas looked like, which was sort of crazy, because nothing is abnormal in a vulva.” In fact, she’s never seen a patient who’s had an abnormal vulva, as far as labia length goes.
Should I do anything different depending on what kind of vagina I have?
Nope, because, again, outie and innie vaginas aren’t really a “thing” (or at least, not a thing you need to worry about).
That being said, labiaplasty, a plastic surgical procedure to reshape the labia minora, definitely exists. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the number of women who underwent surgery to change the appearance of their labia increased 39 per cent from 2015 to 2016.
Many women seek out labiaplasties because they want to “improve” the appearance of their labia, but a study of 14 women who’d had a labiaplasty published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal in 2016, cited issues of physical comfort as well. Since the study was so small, take that data with a grain of salt. Still, Dr. Minkin says that if your labia is causing you serious physical discomfort during sex or any other time, then—and only then—should you consider getting a labiaplasty.
For example, she had a patient, 20 or so years ago, who was a hockey player and had a long labia. “When she got all suited up for hockey, her labia would get stuck in her underwear, and it really seemed to make her uncomfortable while she was playing a fairly vigorous sport,” Dr. Minkin explains. The patient asked Dr. Minkin to trim her labia, and she did it because it was a legitimate reason.
“The vast majority of people looking for labiaplasties really don’t have anything to worry about,” she adds, which is why getting one for purely cosmetic reasons can be seriously dangerous. “Surgery is surgery,” Dr. Minkin says. “You can get an infection doing any surgery, and, to me, it’s sort of silly to risk ending up with real pain for doing a procedure that’s totally unnecessary.”
If you’re wondering whether your labia is normal, and you haven’t really thought about it until this moment, it is. But if you’re just curious about whether your vagina’s an innie or an outie, well, there’s nothing wrong with using a mirror to see what fun stuff’s going on down there.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US.
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