Category Archives: Blog

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

Dr Gemma Sharp on Vulvas

Dr Gemma Sharp, a clinical psychologist, is one of my favorite proponents of labia pride. Some time ago, I featured a video by Dr Gemma Sharp dealing with labiaplasty surgery. She has recently been featured in a TEDTalks session which covers a variety of issues including stigmas around vaginas, what is normal when it comes to labia size, and some basics on womens’ genital physiology. Watch the informative TEDTalks session by Dr Gemma Sharp on vulvas here:

Meta-Emotions and Sexual Wellbeing

“Knowing how your sexuality works is important; welcoming your sexuality as it is, without judgment or shame, is more important….[t]he hard part is liking your sexuality as it is, when for multiple decades the world has been trying to convince you that you’re broken.” Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life,” Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.

Can you guess what the most important element is in determining a woman’s sexual wellbeing?

Is it having a beautiful body? Experiencing orgasm easily? Liking certain sexual activities? Having a porn-perfect vulva and labia? Certainly, if you believe pop culture, you might think any of these is true, and you’d be wrong.

The most important element in determining a woman’s sexual wellbeing is how she feels about her sexuality or any aspect of it—her body, the time it takes to orgasm, or what she likes or dislikes. How she feels is more important than her sexuality itself. “Meta-emotions are how you feel about how you feel…It’s how you feel about what you’re experiencing,” according to Emily Nagoski in “Come as You Are.”

How we feel about our sexuality is complex in our sex negative culture, where few of us receive positive input about any aspect of our sexuality. A woman who enjoys kink may feel shame because of family or cultural messages that label kink as “warped”; another woman may feel shame because she is slow to orgasm and feels like she can’t ask her partner to take the time she needs to climax; yet another may like sex, but feels inhibited because media images have taught her to loathe the looks, color and shape of her labia and vulva. In each of these situations, the woman’s issue isn’t her sexuality. Rather, how she feels about her sexual expression, her sexual functioning or her body is what affects her wellbeing. The same is true for men.

In working with clients over the last three years I’ve learned that it is important to recognize meta-emotions because negative meta-emotions are the only thing we ever need to change. We really are fine just as we are, in our unique sexual expressions, what turns us on, the size, shape, and look of our labia, our functioning.

Here’s the nugget: when it comes to our sexuality, our own internal experience is the best source of knowledge about how ok we really are. Nothing else and nobody else gets to weigh in: not culture, not religion, not a sexual partner, not the porn industry or Cosmopolitan Magazine—only you.

As my own body changes, I’m noticing my meta-emotions and working at letting them go. Sometimes, I’m fine in this changing body, other times, I feel irritated about it all. On the days I feel the best, I’m in a place of acceptance rather than criticism. Join me this week—commit to noticing your meta-emotions about any aspect of your sexuality—but especially how your vulva and labia appear. Simply noticing is the gentle path to awareness, release and self-acceptance.

Jane Steckbeck, Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Coach

Vaginas 101 – Getting to know your vagina

Many of the questions that I receive from visitors to the Labia Project reveal just how little most girls and young women know about their anatomy and the parts that make up their lady bits. Part of the reason for the amount of confusion regarding the female anatomy is a lack of education. Vaginas are also something of a taboo subject. The Labia Project aims to destroy the stigma around the part of the anatomy that more than half of the world’s population has.  This video by Hannah Witton called Getting to Know Your Vagina will give you a quick Vaginas 101 crash-course…

Pubic Hair Poll for Women

After the success of the  Innie vs Outie Vagina Poll (which revealed that around 80% of participants have outie vaginas), I have decided to run a pubic hair poll for women visiting the Labia Project, to find out how they generally maintain their pubic hair. Please vote in the poll by selecting the answer that best applies to you, and clicking “Vote”. To view the results of the poll, click “Results”.

Coming Soon

The Perfect Vagina Documentary

This fascinating British documentary called The Perfect Vagina explores the reasons why women are increasingly undergoing labiaplasty surgery to reduce the size of their labia.

The documentary takes us through the female author’s personal journey in exploring this secret world, and tries to figure out what or who is fueling womens’ desire to have perfect vaginas. The author interviews woman and men about their views on labiaplasty surgery, and in going through the journey, the author also confronts her own perceptions of her vagina.

(Note: the documentary is 51 minutes long and is not a quick watch, so give yourself some time to watch the whole thing)

Clinical Psychologist discusses Labiaplasty Surgery

In recent years, labiaplasty surgery has become one of the fastest growing plastic surgery procedures worldwide, and women often contact me with questions about the procedure. Watch this short video in which Dr Gemma Sharp, an Australian clinical psychologist discusses labiaplasty surgery. In the video, she explores the reasons more and more women are going under the knife to change the way their vulvas look.

Innie vs Outie Vagina Poll

I receive many e-mails and messages asking whether it is normal to have an innie vagina or an outie vagina, and asking how common innies and outies are. I have decided to put an Innie vs Outie Vagina Poll up to find out what percentage of the visitors of the Labia Project have innies and outies. Please vote in the poll by selecting the answer that applies to you, and clicking “Vote”. To view the results of the poll, click “Results”.

Coming Soon