Category Archives: Blog

Woman Born without a Vaginal Opening

This heartbreaking video tells the story of Kaylee, a young woman who was born without a vaginal opening. She suffers from a rare condition known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome, which affects the reproductive system and causes the vagina and uterus to be underdeveloped. As a result of the condition, she doesn’t have a uterus or a cervix.

Fortunately, there is hope. Kaylee is planning to undergo reconstructive surgery to create a vaginal opening and allow her to have sexual intercourse. Unfortunately, despite her condition, her medical insurance is not covering the cost of it ($15 000) as they consider it a cosmetic surgery. They do the same when it comes to most labiaplasty surgeries.

Kaylee is also planning to have children through a surrogate mother. Her boyfriend, who is featured on the video, is amazingly supportive and non-judgmental.

Watch the video here:

Wishing Kaylee everything of the best with her reconstructive surgery and her life after surgery.

Do the labia shrink with menopause?

I read online that it is possible to have the labia shrink with menopause. I have large inner lips and would hate to see them shrink. I’m so against that happening that I asked my doctor about it (she’s very easy to talk to) and she told me there are ways to prevent the changes in the vulva and vagina that can occur with menopause. For the vulva, to prevent atrophy of the tissues and any shrinking of the lips, you can do a daily press-and-release massage of all parts of the vulva. My doctor gave me a link for a booklet online that explains it all (written by a female doctor who owns a sex toy shop).

The vulva can undergo physiological changes throughout a woman’s lifetime, and hormonal changes that come about during puberty, during pregnancy and during menopause are often a catalyst for those changes.

With regard to maintaining vaginal health throughout your lifetime, the most important thing is to keep the vulva clean. This does not mean scrubbing the vulva or using harsh cleaning products – it is largely a self-cleaning organ, and all it needs is a gentle wash with water from time to time.

It is very rare for the vaginal tissue to atrophy, and not much is required in the way of physical exercises to keep it healthy. Many women do kegel exercises to keep the muscles of the vulva healthy and strong, and this can have multiple benefits including reducing the feeling of “looseness” for you and your partner during sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse itself is a form of exercise that can help to keep the vagina healthy (as is the case with masturbation).

I have not looked in any detail into the benefits of vaginal massage, but as far as I know, it can’t do any harm, and as with other forms of massage, it is likely to lead to some benefits when it comes to maintaining and improving circulation.

Clare xo

My Pussy, My Choice: Vagina-Themed Fashion Line by Namilia

Namilia, a Berlin-based fashion brand made up of the duo Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl, launched a Spring / Summer 2018 vagina-themed fashion line at New York Fashion Week. It features unusual and eye-catching pieces, many of which are embellished with images or designs depicting vulvas.

The risque line was inspired The Indiscreet Jewels, a novel first published anonymously in 1748. It portrays Louis XV as the sultan Mangogul of the Congo who owns a magic ring that makes women’s genitals (“jewels”) talk.

The fashion line is bold and unapologetic, and the message that it portrays, in a celebration of female empowerment and womanhood, is: “I can be whatever, I can wear whatever and I can do whatever I want to”. 

Check out this video of the fashion line being worn by models at New York Fashion Week…

What do you think of the message on which the fashion line is based? Would you be bold enough to wear some of these pieces from the vagina-themed fashion line out in public?

Link between spinning and labiaplasty surgery?

I came across an article on the Huffington Post which suggests that there is a correlation between the increased popularity in spinning and labiaplasty surgery. The article quotes a US plastic surgeon who says that he has experienced an increased demand for the procedure by women who experience discomfort from spinning, cycling and other physical exercises.

The submissions that I receive on the Labia Project also reveal that many women consider undergoing labiaplasty surgery in order to reduce discomfort caused by physical exercises.

While undergoing the surgery is ultimately a matter of personal choice, I don’t advise undergoing surgery except as a last resort. The procedure is irreversible, often does not meet womens’ expectations, and can lead to regrets later in life. A decision to undergo the procedure should therefore not be taken lightly, and should be taken after extensive research and self-reflection.

There are ways to manage and reduce labia discomfort caused by physical activities. Padded underwear / shorts and emollients (moisturizers) can assist in reducing chafing and discomfort. My reply to this submission contains some additional tips for reducing labia discomfort.

Becoming Sexually Conscious: Explore Your Desire

“…[T]he sexual norms we inherit bear little resemblance to what people actually do. I think it would be great if everyone told the truth—for one moment—about their actual sexual practices and relationships, affairs, and arrangements, fantasies and desires. The diversity would amaze us all.” Staci Haines, “Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma.”

In my workshop on Empowered Sexuality for Women, I give my class participants a list of sexual activities to begin to explore the edges of their desires. A list is a great—and very safe way—to begin to explore desire. And it is just a starting point. Below, I’ll share additional ideas for moving beyond the list to explore sexual desire further.

Exploring the edges of sexual desire can be scary—evoking all sorts of complex feelings, especially if sex has involved abuse or shame. But when we are in charge of this exploration, we’re in the driver’s seat—meaning, we are fully at choice. As such, we can quit if something doesn’t feel right, or we can choose to continue and allow the full range of feelings we experience. As long as we are not re-experiencing shame as we explore, finding out what turns us on can be richly pleasurable and highly empowering.

Something we must have before we explore is a solid grounding in self-acceptance, particularly of our bodies and our sexuality. These days, so many women struggle with body image because we live in a culture that trains women that their value comes from being pleasing to others—and the range of what culture defines as pleasing is shockingly narrow, defined by the fashion and porn industries. Thus, it can be hard for a woman to feel excited about exploring desire and turn-ons, if she does not feel as if she fits culture’s image of what’s pleasing. What can help a woman break free of culturally imposed limitations is accepting that beauty comes in all sizes, shapes and colors, and that includes breasts and genitals. If you struggle with accepting that your labia is perfect as it is, look through the Labia Library and take in the range of sizes, colors, and shapes of labia. You’ll be amazed—and hopefully will recognize how absurd it is to measure yourself against the unreality of fashion and porn, both of which promote the most narrow vision possible of “beauty.”

The following are three additional ways I have encouraged client and class participants to explore the realm of their desires:

First, I encourage people to ask friends what turns them on. The truth is, a lot of people are relieved to talk about sex once someone else raises the subject. You both might learn something—and open your friendship in a way that fosters greater connection. From attending workshops through The Human Awareness Institute, I’ve developed a group of friends who are comfortable talking about sex. It is incredible—normalizing—positive—and really fun to be able to talk openly with friends about something we usually keep hidden.

Second, I encourage people–especially women–to read erotica. Many women find erotica to be a fabulous way to stoke desire and to evoke the imagination, a powerful source of desire for women. A few good starters include three annual series: Best Women’s Erotica, Best American Erotica and Best Lesbian Erotica. The website, literotica.com is also a good site, with offerings far beyond erotica.

Finally, some erotic DVDs can be both instructive and a turn-on. In particular, the Alexander Institute produces DVDs that are both erotic and educational. The videos are explicit—and—are far more satisfying than pornography, especially for women. Specific DVDs I can recommend include:

  • The Modern Kama Sutra, An Erotic Workshop for Lovers
    • Vol. I: Sensual Secrets to Amazing Sex
    • Vol. II: Pleasuring Her First
    • Vol. III: Sexual Positions for Great Sex
  • Woman to Woman Erotic Touch for Great Sex
  • The Art of Advanced Oral Sex
  • Advanced Sex Toys for Great Sex

Watched alone or with a partner, erotic videos can be a great way to open your desire and spice up your sex life!

Knowing what turns us on doesn’t mean we have to do everything that sparks our desire—that’s an entirely different conversation. But knowing allows us to choose—and to normalize feeling turned on. For anyone who has experienced shame around pleasure as a result of sex abuse, religious or family messaging, allowing desire without shame is fabulous. Happy explorations!

Jane Steckbeck, Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Coach

Is my vagina normal? Dr Zoe talks about designer vaginas

One of the questions most frequently asked by women who write to me is “is my vagina normal”?

The fact that there is a need to ask the question shows how little women are taught about what is normal when it comes to their vulvas. This has led to an increase in genital cosmetic surgery around the world.

Watch this short video of an interview with Dr Zoe (a medical doctor who practices as a GP). In the video, she covers the topic of genital cosmetic surgery and explains (with illustrated pictures) what is normal when it comes to variations in womens’ genital anatomy…

Scientific study of variations in female genital dimensions

With so much misinformation out there about what is “normal” when it comes to womens’ vulvas, I decided to do some research to get to the hard facts around this issue. This included a poll that I ran on the Labia Project to establish what proportion of visitors have “innie vaginas” and “outie vaginas”. I also located an academic article about a scientific study of variations in female genital dimensions.

The results of the Innie vs Outie Vagina Poll (which had over 500 participants) showed that around 80% of women have outie vaginas (inner labia that protrude through the outer labia), compared to around 20% who have innie vaginas (inner labia that are not visible through the outer labia).

With regard to the academic article, it is entitled “Female genital appearance: ‘normality’ unfolds”. It was authored by Ms S. M. Creighton of the Department of Gynaecology at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in London, and it was published in 2004 in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The objective of the study was to describe variations in genital dimensions of normal women, and it involved a physical observational study of 50 pre-menopausal women, to establish variations in various parts of their vulvas including clitoral size, labia length, width and color and vaginal length.

The study found that there was no statistically significant association between different labia sizes and colors, and womens’ age, ethnicity, or history of sexual activity. It found that women vary widely in genital dimensions.

The study found the following range of dimensions among the participants:

Range Mean (Average)
Clitoral length (mm) 5–35 19.1 [8.7]
Clitoral glans width (mm) 3–10 5.5 [1.7]
Clitoris to urethra (mm) 16–45 28.5 [7.1]
Labia majora length (cm) 7.0–12.0 9.3 [1.3]
Labia minora length (mm) 20–100 60.6 [17.2]
Labia minora width (mm) 7–50 21.8 [9.4]
Perineum length (mm) 15–55 31.3 [8.5]
Vaginal length (cm) 6.5–12.5 9.6 [1.5]

“Scientific” link between sexual activity and labia length

link between sexual activity and labia lengthSo much misinformation on womens’ labia is circulated on the internet under the guise of science. This is a particularly extreme example, and it would be fair to say that I am disgusted that someone would create and spread this. It perpetuates the widespread myth that there is a link between sexual activity and labia length.

The use of medical terminology and the footnoted references to articles in medical journals, give it the appearance of legitimacy, making the information seem convincing. Most people would not go to the trouble of verifying whether the medical journals indeed support the claims made. This is what makes this type of misinformation particularly dangerous.

The headline of the article (“Slut Detection 101”) is the first important indication that it has no legitimacy. This makes it clear that it was probably created and spread by a misogynistic male, with the purpose of body-shaming women whose labia are absolutely normal.

The reality is that there is no scientifically established link between normal sexual activity and labia length. The only impact that normal sexual activity has on vaginal physiology, is the breakage of the hymen if it is still intact at the time. The vulva is a very elastic organ, and its physiology is not affected by masturbation or sex.

Clare xo