What is labia minora?
The labia is that portion of the female vulva which covers the major external visible portion. In Human females, the Labia exists in two pairs. The outer Labia which is larger and heavier is called that Labia Minora and the other pair, which constitutes of the folds of skin present between the out labia is called Labia Minora. Fundamentally, Labia Minora is two flaps of skin which have varied pigmentation, shapes as well as sizes depending on different individuals. They are also termed as vaginal lips or inner lips due to the structure being similar to lips.
Labia Minora Location
The Labia Minora is located in the vulva on either side of the female vaginal opening. These continue from the clitoris, spreading downward at an angle as well as backward on both sides of the vulval vestibule. It ends in between the bottom portion of the vulval vestibule and the Labia Majora. However, the length of the Labia Minora may change according to a different individual. The rear end of the Labia Minora is connected through the middle line by a section of skin called fourchette or frenulum Labia Minora.
Structure and Functions of Labia Minora
The Labia Minora is composed of different and many layers of skin tissues, while the exterior-most layer is built of non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelium connected to the skin surrounding it. The absence or reduced amount of keratin in Labia Minora reduces its toughness and makes it less waterproof. However, in turn, it makes it more smooth and soft.
Further, deep into the epithelium exists another layer composed of fibrous connective tissues connecting to the dermis of the skin. These connective tissues contain in them protein fibers; these being Collagen and elastin, which provide strength and elasticity to the inner lips. Other tissues, namely the vascular and nervous tissues perform the duty of supporting the cells present in the outer epithelial layer. The typical pink pigmentation of the Labia Minora is given to it due to the blood flowing through the innumerous small capillaries present in the connective tissues. There are other greasy and oily glands present in these connective tissues which extend to the outer surface of the Labia Minora. The lubrication and protection of the inner portions of the Labia Minora are done through the sebum or oil generated by these sebaceous glands.
The extremely sensitive portions of the vulval vestibule along with the vaginal and urethral openings are protected against mechanical irritation, dryness, and infections which may be caused and create damage to the Labia Minora. Since the Inner lips are located next to the female external urethral openings, they also perform the duty of directing the stream of urine during urination.
Labia Minora Pictures
Diseases related to it
Being one of the most sensitive areas of the female vulva, the Labia Minora is also open to various infections and diseases. Since it is connected to an innumerable number of skin cells, diseases of the Labia Minora are mostly unbearable. Some of the diseases which may affect the inner lips are:
- Labial Minora Hypertrophy
- Labial Fusion
Now, Labia Minora is most women may not be completely symmetrical or balanced. Similar to the pigmentation, shape, size, and length of the Labia Minora, the symmetry may also vary. The medical condition wherein the Labia Minora is larger in respect to the Labia Majora and sticks out more than the Labia Majora to an extent wherein it becomes uncomfortable or painful it is termed as Labial Minora Hypertrophy. It may also create difficulty since the enlarged Labia Minora is visible in the form of a bulge through clothing.
Signs and symptoms
- Hygiene – Since the area is over sensitive women may be inclined to not touching it. Similarly, during periods, it is difficult for most women to clean and hence these hygiene problems may lead to Labial Hypertrophy.
- Irritation – An enlarged and long Labia Minora can be constantly in touch and hence rub with a women’s underwear which leads to continuous friction. The prolonged friction and subsequent heat lead to irritated skin.
- Pain – During physical activities specifically those in which extreme pressure and the load is exerted onto the genital area leads to pain and discomfort in the Labia Minora.
During puberty, a woman undergoes many hormonal and subsequent physical changes, one of the resultant of these changes caused due to increased estrogen levels is the enlargement of Labia Minora. In some women, the genetics play the responsibility of the enlargement of the Labia Minora. Due to some sort of trauma or shock, or in the case of chronic infections, the Labia Minora may increase in size. Pregnancy is another phase in a women’s life wherein large amounts of blood rush towards the genital area of the woman and may lead to the heaviness and subsequent expansion of the Labia Minora.
Treatment of Labial Minora Hypertrophy is done by the removal of excess tissue with a surgery called Labioplasty. Surgeons use the surgery to reduce the size and give a new shape to the Labia Minora.
The surgery may cause further more issues in the Labia Minora or the genital area since this portion of the women is extremely sensitive. The risks include:
- A responsive reaction to the anesthetic
Use of cleansing agents and lubricants in an inappropriate manner or incorrect application creates extreme irritation and pain leading to this medical condition, which requires medical help as well as treatment. Similarly, with the lack of estrogen in girls during puberty accompanied by vigorous and continuous rubbing leads to this condition called Labial Fusion. The medical condition leads to the fusion of the inner lips. The fusion may also lead to the blocking of the passage of urine.
In minor cases of Labia Minora, the fusion may end and the inner lips may separate over time. This may also be healed by the use of estrogen-rich creams onto the areas of adhesion. Don’t wait long consult the doctor as long you see the symptoms.
In serious cases, wherein the entire passage of urine is blocked by the inflammation, the fusion is broken through surgery by the removal of the fused tissues. Don’t use cosmetics which can be allergic to your skin instead use ayurvedic products.
Since the Labia Minora is present in the track of the excretion area where there might be traces of urine, vaginal discharge, smegma and in many cases faeces may lead to continuous and prolonged irritation in the Labia Minora. Hence leading to inflammatory chronic infections called Vulvitis.