No Such Thing as a “Normal Vagina,” Study Concludes
Node Smith, ND
Many women feel uncomfortable with the shape, size and overall appearance of their vagina. However, a recent study published in the journal BJOG, concludes that there is no such thing as a “normal vagina.” This is the largest study ever conducted on vaginas and vulvas of women and may have impact on how women view their own genitalia.
Study looked at 657 women; ages 15-84
The research team is from Lucern Cantonal Hospital in Switzerland. They looked at 657 women; ages 15-84. The team measured the inner and outer labia, vaginal opening, clitoris and perineum of the participants. After the data was compiled, a wide range of variation was seen. There was actually no average size or shape that could be called “normal” from the data.
Every vagina varies
The labia, or lips of the vagina, varied widely. Labia majora, or outer labia, was measured between 12mm and 180mm in length. The labia minora, or inner labia, had a similar range, 5mm to 100mm in length. Clitoral size was seen between 1mm and 22mm with a length between 0.5mm and 34mm. Vaginal openings varied between 6mm and 75mm.
The authors of the study point out that this variation in size depicts biological differences and underlines that completely healthy and normal vaginas and vulva can look very different from each other. They further point out that “no vagina is wrong or weird.”
All the women in this study were Caucasian, and the authors do plan on conducting further research with different ethnicities.
Major upswing in labiaplasties
There is a major increase in plastic surgeries targeted at “correcting” the shape and size of the vagina and vulva of women – labiaplasties. A survey conducted in 2016, of 443 Australian GPs, showed that nearly all doctors care for patients who are anxious or upset with the appearance of their genitalia. The international Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported in 2017, that there was a 39 percent increase in labiaplasties between 2015 and 2016. The most common complaint was that their vulvas were asymmetrical or too large.
- Kreklau A, Vaz I, Oehme F, et al. Measurements of a “normal vulva” in women aged 15-84: A cross-sectional prospective single centre study. BJOG. 2018.
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.