‘Am I normal?’
The appearance of their genitals can be a common concern for many women and girls. This can be influenced by many things, including how our culture views sexuality (and female sexuality in particular); the shame and secrecy that still persists about female genitals; the negative messages your family may have given you about your body and your genitals as you were growing up (even if they didn’t mean to); the myths about female genitals; and the influence of porn because of the depiction of only one ‘type’ of female genitals (which came from rules relating to censorship many years ago).
Learning about genitals, and the vulva (the outside bits) in particular and about what is ‘normal’ is very important in starting to feel OK and then learning to love and celebrate this part of your body.
The appearance of vulvas varies a great deal. They vary in relation to the size, shape, colour, hairiness, and even odour.
- Labia minora (inner lips) that are longer than the labia majora (outer lips). This is the case in the majority of women. This can vary from the labia minora being a bit longer than the labia majora and protruding a little bit, to being a lot longer, and protruding a lot more.
- Other variations in labia minora. Labia minora do not just vary in length, they can be thin or thick, have many folds or few folds, and are also commonly asymmetrical (where one side is longer and/or thicker than the other side).
- The labia majora also vary a lot between individuals. They may be very plump and curve around the inside of the vulva, or smaller and thinner and tucked back, and everything in between.
- Vulvas usually differ in colour to the rest of the body and, depending on the colour of your skin, can be quite different to skin elsewhere.
- Pubic hair. Hair around the genitals also varies a lot between individuals. It can be fine or course, curly or straight, long or short, be just around the genitals or be on the inner thighs and tummy too, and of course colour can vary from black to brown to red or blonde.
- Vulvas always have a slight odour which is completely normal. Just like other individual body odours they vary a little from person to person and can vary throughout the month.
If you are particularly concerned about the appearance of your genitals or have noticed a change in the appearance of your genitals, please see your nearest sexual health clinic, family planning clinic, or your GP.
For more information about female genitals, and specifically labia and vulvas see the following links:
This is an Australian website that was developed by Women’s Health Victoria which aims to celebrate the different variations of female genitals and to “bust a few myths”.
This is a booklet produced by Brooks, a sexual health service in the UK.
This is from Betty Dodson and Carlin Ross’ website, a US based charity who are dedicated to creating and disseminating information and education about sex and women’s and girls’ bodies in order to improve lives.
Healthline are a US based community that supports the provision of health information and education.
Like our genitals, breasts come in all shapes and sizes.
Due to unrealistic representation in the media, women may feel unsatisfied with the way that their breasts look, and sometimes may feel that they are not normal. However, breasts vary greatly in their size, shape, position, and nipple appearance.
Some of the variations in breast appearance includes:
- A very small breast area, that may appear to be flat
- Large areolas (coloured area surrounding the nipple) that may cover a lot of breast area
- Flat nipples or protruding nipples
- Breasts that are tubular in shape (long and pointed)
- Breast shape that is long and flowing (may be referred to as ‘saggy’)
- Breasts that are different in size – breasts may vary by multiple cup sizes
- Breasts that are asymmetrical in position – one breast may be higher or lower than the other
Important: If you have noticed a change in your breasts that you are concerned about, please consult your GP. See breast health for more information.
Still concerned about the appearance of your breasts? Here you can find a gallery of normal breast variations.