The labia majora are the two fatty folds of skin that extend from the mons pubis to a woman's lower genital regions, as the labia majora merge into the area in front of the anus, known as the perineum. As the inner areas of the labia majora are smooth and lubricated by the body, the labia majora serve to protect a woman's genital region; however, the labia majora can also be massaged during foreplay or other sexual activities.
The Development of the Labia Majora
As a girl grows and develops, prior to puberty, the labia majora are typically thin and free of hair. Furthermore, a young girl's labia majora have not yet built up an accumulation of protective fatty tissues. Once a girl reaches puberty and experiences menstruation, however, the labia majora begin to transform. Upon experiencing menstruation, the labia majora will exhibit changes such as:
- The exterior folds of the labia majora will grow pubic hair
- The labia majora will gradually build up more soft and fatty tissues
- The interior folds of the labia majora will begin to more readily release secretions from the sebaceous glands
- The secretions released by the interior labia majora are excreted to protect the health of a woman's genital region, as the excretions also offer natural lubrication
The Labia Majora and Menopause
As a women reaches menopause, she may notice many significant changes in her labia majora. Primarily, the labia majora will begin to grow less hair and / or grow gray hairs. Eventually, the labia majora may stop growing hair entirely. Adding to this, the labia majora will gradually become thinner, as this region will break down the fatty areas, shifting the suppleness of the labia majora.
The Labia Majora and Grooming
While many individuals prefer to maintain their labia majora in its natural state, some women prefer to alter the appearance of this area by removing some or all of the hair found on the labia majora. In fact, some women assert that intercourse becomes more pleasurable once the hair is removed from the labia majora; however, some experts argue that hair removal in this area can cause various infections and uncomfortable skin-based side effects. If one does choose to remove some or all of the hair from their labia majora, a woman can explore hair removal options such as:
- Laser hair surgery – The hair follicles are individually destroyed, resulting in a permanent loss of hair / hair growth
- Brazilian Wax – With a Brazilian Wax, the hair on and around the labia majora is pulled from its roots. As a result, women can enjoy a hair-free pubic region for up to 3 or 4 weeks. While typically seen as convenient and affordable, this method may be moderately uncomfortable / painful. Also, to avoid any risks or injuries, women should only have their labia majora waxed by a licensed professional.
- Shaving – Some women choose to shave the hair on their labia majora; however, this is not highly recommended. Shaving can cause discomfort, minor cuts that can lead to infection, and can also cause ingrown hairs / rashes, etcetera. Adding to this, shaving typically only lasts one day or less, making this hair removal option more repetitive and potentially more irritating to the skin.