Could Large Labia Be the Cause of UTIs?

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Betty Dodson

Hi there!

Ever since I achieved menarche at the tender age of 9 years old, I have had larger labia minora. Now I know this is a common "complaint" of women because so many people act absolutely repulsed by the sight of "meat curtains," "roast beef pussies," or any other demeaning, mostly meat-related titles given to longer labia minora... I even remember my sister asking me at age 12 "what is wrong with your JUNK??" like I was some sort of freak because my labia didn't look like hers (she's 3 years older than I am, but didn't have her first period until 6 months after I did)

It took me many, many years to accept myself and realize I look NORMAL "down there." In fact, I didn't become completely comfortable with it until just recently and I've been sexually active for 8 years (I'm 26) and I have a child --both things that I believe are important to note because I've had that time to learn more about my vagina and vulva.

So now that I've finally decided NO on getting a labiaplasty or any kind of cosmetic work done on my vulva (hooray for me!) I've noticed I keep getting UTIs, and pretty severe ones nowadays. I have a lot of sex, granted, but with one partner and we're both clean. I'm a neat-freak but I don't use soaps or solutions that disrupt my normal vaginal flora, all that good stuff. I'm basically the poster-child for vaginal and external urinary health. An emergency room nurse tried to give me the whole "wipe front to back" speech and everything, and then I started to wonder: is my "extra" labia minora skin causing me to retain more bacteria? It seems to make sense because they stick out about 1/8-1/4" of an inch (I'm guessing here) and they provide a warm environment for bacteria to cultivate and I think it would be less likely if they weren't as long.

Silly question, I think, because I'm probably never going to alter my labia, but if it's causing these horrible urinary infections I would like to know so I could find ways to remedy the situation. I eat healthy, I drink water, juice, no coffee --again, healthy gal here for the most part :/ So I just can't imagine it being anything else. I'm actually just getting out of the hospital for a very severe renal infection, so that's why I'm so concerned. I'm getting really tired of abstaining because I keep getting sick!


Do you think the way a woman's vulva looks should be taught more in schools for sex ed? My sex ed class was basically just: where babies come from, STDs and prevention, and how to check for breast lumps. Not a single word was uttered about how large of a variety of vulva "styles" there are in the world... So I had to learn from, you guessed it, pornography... I think for both boys AND girls there should be emphasis on how genitalia looks because once a child is shamed for how theirs looks, it can affect him/her for life like it did for me. Boys should learn their penises come in all shapes and sizes, and girls should learn they aren't dirty or weird because their vulva looks a little different.

Dear J,

The lovely petals of your inner lips have nothing to do with getting UTI's. Since you have been somewhat obsessed with your large inner lips, it makes sense you would suspect them with so many UTI's. I too have large inner lips. The one time I had a series of UTI's, I was experimenting with anal sex and since I liked Doggie Style, that meant the lube would run down into my urethra.

What about hubby? Does he have a foreskin? During penetration sex are you sufficiently lubricating? Do you urinate after he's come inside you? What kind of birth control are you using? If condoms are involved, some of us are allergic to latex. I'm just throwing out other possible causes here.

Yes we need to teach boys and girls far more than the bird's and bee's of procreation. Teens need to know far more about their sexual bodies including genital styles and sexual pleasure. They need to know that masturbation is a healthy and important way to enjoy safe orgasms until birth control is mastered. But as you see, America is still quite backward when it come to healthier attitudes about sex and pleasure thanks to our Puritanical heritage and fundamentalism in religion that is the source of sexual problems today. Hopefully your children will have a healthier attitude thanks to a sexually enlightened mom.

Dr. Betty

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