Questions you’ve always wanted to ask your OB/GYN (but were afraid to ask): Anatomy

November 12, 2010

 We’ve all had questions related to OB/GYN issues that we didn’t feel like actually asking anyone–even our doctor.  We, the OB/GYN doctors at Women’s Health Associates, decided to bypass the question asking and simply address several sensitive questions by giving a series of presentations in the Kansas City area.  We found that women were very receptive to this topic and wanted to hear the answers as long as they didn’t have to ask the questions.  Now we’re addressing the same questions through blog entries.  You’ll get the facts you need without having to ask the questions!       

Am I normal “down there”?

Yes, your genital anatomy is most likely normal.  There are many variations of female genital anatomy.  The labia minora can vary in shape, color, thickness, and size.  Some labia minora are small, and some hang below the labia majora.  Many women have one side that’s longer than the other.  The labia minora can be any shade of pink, tan, brown, or black, or a combination of colors.  All of these variations fall within the realm of normal.  You can learn more from an anatomy book or looking up female anatomy on the internet.  (Just be sure to choose your search words carefully!)  If you are unhappy with the way you look, labial reduction plastic surgery is an option, but it’s usually not considered medically necessary and not covered by insurance.  If you are concerned that you have a medical problem, always seek the care and opinion of a GYN professional.

Why does it look different “down there” before and after pregnancy?

Your body can look different after pregnancy for several reasons.  During pregnancy, your body swells, and it can take 6-8 weeks for your body to seem normal to you again.  You may experience hypertrophy, or enlargement, of the labia minora during pregnancy.  Hypertrophy in the genital area may be permanent for some women.  After delivering a baby, you may notice your skin elasticity change.  The vaginal opening is usually enlarged.  If you had a tear or episiotomy during delivery, the tear was repaired and should heal nicely.  You might have a scar, but it is usually hard to see. 

What lesions are normal, and what lesions are not normal?

Lesions in the genital area are fairly common.  This area has many sweat glands and hair follicles, and the area is usually covered up tightly by clothing.  It is highly likely that lesions or bumps that develop in this area are normal and nothing to be concerned about.  Acne can develop in the genital area, and that’s normal.  If a lesion or bump is painful, look at it.  If it’s a blister-like lesion or an ulcer, it should be evaluated by your doctor.  Your doctor can determine whether you have a benign lesion or whether you need treatment for a medical problem. 

Should I shave my pubic hair?

Shaving pubic hair is a personal preference.  Some women who shave may have problems with ingrown hair follicles or may experience skin irritation.

We hope you find the above information about female genital anatomy helpful.  Over the next several blog entries, we’ll be addressing many more OB/GYN issues you may have questions about.  Check back to learn the answers without having to ask the questions!