While it’s not difficult to find the labia — which consists of the labia majora, the outer lips that ensconce everything else down there, and the labia minora, the inner lips that surround the clitoris and the opening of the vagina — it’s clear that very little is actually understood about it by the general population. Though it’s not as mysterious as, say, the woman’s G-spot or the clitoris, there is still a lot of educating about the labia that needs to happen. If you have frequently asked labia questions (Can the labia change colors? Is a labia change in length or color indicative of a super-active sex life? Does it change appearance based on how much sex you have?), we have the answers.
First thing’s first: Every person's labia are unique (if they have them). Labia that are different colors or sizes are only the result of biology, not how much sex a person is having or has had. Now that we’ve drilled that PSA into your head, we can dive into even more unchartered territory: the varying colors of the lady parts.
Yes, just as every part of our body grows as we get older, our female reproductive organs undergo transformations (and growth!) as well. Just as our labia reach full-size growth in our 20s, factors like age and circumstance may also cause its color to darken.
There are two kinds of color changes in the labia. One has to do with intercourse, the other, aging, according to London Gynecology. When experiencing an orgasm, the labia temporarily become engorged with blood, causing them to appear bigger and darker in hue. This change is fleeting and not long-term. The main reasons for the labia to change color are puberty, after a significant amount of weight gain and pregnancy, according to Parents.
“The labia minora change during puberty and often become more prominent or change in appearance,” notes The Labia Library, a not-for-profit organization associated with Women’s Health Victoria. “This is completely normal, like all of the other changes that take place during puberty. They continue to change throughout your life because of hormonal changes and age.”
No, how much sex a person has had or has doesn't have any scientific bearing on the color of a person’s labia. The only way in which sex acts affect the labia’s coloring are during climax.
“There is no evidence that the labia [undergo] any permanent changes as a result of having sex,” Dr. Toli Onon, a spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, says. “During orgasm, the labia will become engorged with blood, which will make them appear larger and darker, but this is not long-lasting.”
Pregnancy hormones cause an overall shift in parts of the body’s natural coloring, as these hormones result in a significant variation in the way melanin is deposited. Melanin is the skin’s pigment, and its levels are responsible for when things like hair, skin and eyes darken or lighten. Because pregnancy hormones result in a melanin shift, parts of the body like the linea nigra, the nipples and the labia oftentimes become darker.
“Pregnancy hormones certainly affect all the tissues, so there is deposition of fat, and sometimes there is a lot of retention of fluid,” London Gynecology consulting gynecologist Pradnya Pisal says. “The color changes from pregnancy, with some increase in deposition of melanin in certain cells of the body.”
According to Broadly, the appearance of the labia is directly correlated to fat deposition, just as it’s also correlated to melanin deposition. When a person puts on a significant amount of weight, fat deposition throughout all areas of the body changes — this includes the labia and vulva. Because of this, the appearance of both will likely alter.
“If you put on fat, you put on fat everywhere else as well,” Pisal says, “and that will change the way the vulva and labia appear.”
Originally published on HelloFlo.
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