What Causes Large Labia and What You Can Do About It

Variations in labia size and shape are totally normal

A larger appearing labia may be due to a condition called labial hypertrophy, but it can also be totally normal. Labia come in different sizes and may not even be symmetrical.

However, if you notice your labia have become bigger, you may want to make an appointment with your healthcare provider. Keep in mind that labial hypertrophy doesn't always need treatment—it depends on what symptoms (if any) you have.

This article discusses the causes of large labia, symptoms you may have, and when to talk with a healthcare provider.

What Are the Labia?

The labia are the lips of the vulva (external female genitalia). The outer lips are called labia majora and the inner lips are called the labia minora. The function of the labia is to protect the clitoris and vagina from trauma.

what is labial hypertrophy

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What Causes Large Labia?

There's no clear cause of labial hypertrophy. Contrary to what some people believe, it's not caused by masturbation or a sexually transmitted infection. Possible causes of labial hypertrophy include:

  • Genetics: Some people are born with large or differently shaped labia.
  • Hormonal events: The labia may change in size during puberty or after childbirth.
  • Aging: Changes over time may lead to labial hypertrophy.
  • Restrictive clothing: Regularly wearing clothing that's tight against the labia can lead to changes.
  • Active cycling: People who are avid or competitive bicycle riders may experience repeated trauma to the area that leads to the development of a protective layer of fat in the labia majora.

Large Labia Symptoms

Most people with labial hypertrophy don't experience any symptoms or discomfort related to it. Others may deal with some symptoms.

Labial hypertrophy most often affects only the labia minora, but can affect the labia majora, or both. It can affect one or both sides. You may be born with a bigger labia, or it can develop over time.

Symptoms can include:

  • Labia irritation: Especially if the labia minora protrude beyond the labia majora, the excess tissue may be easily irritated by menstrual pads or tight-fitting clothing such as swimsuits, tights, or leotards. In some cases, just the pressure of sitting in a hard chair may cause labia irritation or pain.
  • Discomfort during exercise or penetrative sex: This is caused by friction against the excess tissues during activities including running, horseback riding, bicycling, and sexual intercourse.
  • Hygiene problems: A bigger labia may complicate the use of tampons or menstrual cups. It also may be difficult or painful to clean between the lips.
  • Recurring infections: Difficulty cleaning the outer genitalia may lead to recurrent bacterial overgrowth and yeast infections.
  • Self-consciousness: If labia majora are large, it may create a visible bump in tight clothing like swimsuits and underwear that some people may feel self conscious of.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you don't have any symptoms of labial hypertrophy, you don't need to worry about getting treatment for it. However, you should bring it up with your healthcare provider if:

  • You have symptoms that impact your life
  • You have recurrent infections
  • You have a lot of anxiety or negative emotions regarding your labia

It's typical for the labia minora to swell during sexual arousal, but if your labia swell and don't return to their normal size, you should speak to your healthcare provider.


Healthcare providers don't have specific tests or imaging they use to diagnose labial hypertrophy as there aren't widely accepted guidelines for this condition. A healthcare provider typically diagnoses labial hypertrophy based on a pelvic examination and any vaginal or labial symptoms you may be having.

If your healthcare provider believes your labia are within normal parameters or that your anxiety over hypertrophy is excessive, they may screen you for body dysmorphic disorder. This describes a mental health condition that causes you to see your body in an unrealistic way and obsess over perceived flaws.

Average Labia Size

Labia size varies greatly. One study of 200 assigned females not seeking labia-related plastic surgery found that the average size of labia was 19 mm wide and 35.5 mm long.

Large Labia Cyst

Your healthcare provider may also check you for Bartholin gland cysts to see if that could be causing your symptoms. The Bartholin glands are located next to the labia minora near the opening of the vagina. These glands provide lubrication and can, in some cases, get blocked and develop a cyst or, in the case of an infection, an abscess.

Unlike labial hypertrophy, which is uniform, a cyst tends to be one-sided and causes a pea-shaped lump you can feel or, if it's larger, see.

Large Labia Treatment

Most people who go to their healthcare provider concerned about labial hypertrophy don't actually have it, but may feel embarrassed about their labia's appearance. In those cases, treatment may include education about the wide variation in what's considered "normal" and counseling for body acceptance.

In most cases of true labial hypertrophy, the condition doesn't need to be treated. If you do have bothersome symptoms related to the labia minora, though, you have a surgical option known as labiaplasty which can:

  • Reduce the size of the labia minora
  • Help eliminate symptoms
  • Help you feel better about the labia's appearance

So far, this is the only treatment known to eliminate the symptoms of labial hypertrophy.


Labiaplasty is an outpatient procedure usually performed by plastic surgeons. They may remove the tissues with surgical cutting tools or use a heat-based technique called radiofrequency (RF) treatment.

Several surgical techniques are in use:

  • Deepithelialization: Best suited for minimal hypertrophy, this technique involves removing a small amount of tissue and preserving the overall contour of the labia minora.
  • Direct excision: Tissues are cut away in a straightforward manner; however, the natural color, shape, and texture of the labia minora are lost, a scar may be visible, and the aesthetic outcome is generally considered poor.
  • Wedge resection: The surgeon removes a V-shaped wedge from low on the labia minora, then stitches the edges together. This preserves the natural edge of the tissues and results in a better appearance.

Labiaplasty typically takes less than an hour and may be performed with either local or general anesthesia. Recovery is generally expected to take about six weeks.

A Word From Verywell

If you're worried about the appearance of your labia, rest assured that each person's are unique and yours probably aren't outside of the average range. If you're having symptoms, though, don't hesitate to bring them up with your healthcare provider. Getting to the bottom of what's causing them is the first step towards feeling better, both physically and emotionally.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does frequent sexual intercourse contribute to labial hypertrophy?

    No. It is a myth that frequent sexual intercourse causes a larger than average labia size.

  • Do labia get longer with age?

    Aging can lead to a loss of elasticity, which can make the labia appear longer and thinner.

  • How can I stop my labia from growing?

    There is no way to stop labia from growing. If you are concerned about the size of your labia or are experiencing other symptoms, speak with your healthcare provider.

14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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