Labiaplasty is a common surgical procedure that reduces the labia minora, the inner folds of skin that protect the vagina. Some women develop enlargement of the labia minora at puberty, and this can become more prominent over time and with childbirth. There are both medical and personal reasons for pursuing a labiaplasty, as large labia can cause health & hygiene issues in addition to cosmetic concerns.
Common Medical Reasons for A Labiaplasty
While many women have large labia and have no medical issues, some women can develop problems with urogenital tract infections and overall hygiene problems related to enlarged labia.
Chronic urinary infections
Some women with larger labia may find that it is difficult to fully clean themselves after urinating. This can lead to chronic UTIs or urinary tract infections. In addition, toilet paper may become trapped in the folds of larger labia, resulting in further hygiene issues.
Large labia can also trap sweat, secretions, and other bacteria, resulting in yeast infections. Women with chronic yeast infections may also benefit from a labiaplasty to reduce these symptoms.
Pain and discomfort
More commonly, large labia are a source of pain and discomfort from pinch or pulling. Certain clothing can make having larger labia more difficult, particularly yoga pants or other constricting garments. Some women find that their labia can become pinched with exercise or irritated during intercourse. A labia reduction surgery is liberating for these women, reducing discomfort and pain with these activities.
Trauma to the vaginal area during childbirth can also result in injury to the labia minora. The most common location for a labia minora tear is at the connection of the labia to the clitoris, in a small band of tissue called the clitoral frenulum. This can be repaired during a labiaplasty.
Pregnancy and related hormones can also cause changes to the labia minora, making them more prominent, darker, and even longer in length.
The most common reason for labia minora enlargement is genetics and puberty. Much like some women develop larger breasts at a young age, so too do some women present with rapid growth of the labia minora in response to puberty. This does not mean that there are abnormal hormone levels. Nor does it mean that there is anything wrong! Labia enlargement is a normal development for many women and does not require surgery unless there are some of the medical reasons or cosmetic concerns listed above. If your child has asked you about a labiaplasty, or you are under 18 years old, it is generally recommended that you wait until you can make your own medical decisions before considering a labiaplasty.