Woman hiding behind her sweater
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Q: For most of my adult life, I've felt like there is extra skin around my vulva, and it has made me feel uncomfortable to be nude in front of my current boyfriend and all of the boyfriends I've ever had. No one has ever said anything about it, but I've looked at men's magazines, and my vulva looks nothing like the models in the pictures. How can I know if my vulva is normal?

— Melissa

A: Don't look though men's magazines to determine if your vulva is "normal," because those pictures are all air-brushed and the vulva is coiffed and made all pink and perfect and small and symmetrical, and that is not what real women look like. I would check out the DVD Viva La Vulva to see a real variety of what real women's genitals look like.

It may be that you have larger labia majora that sorts hangs a little bit, and then you have the labia minora, so it looks like you have extra skin, but you really have two sets of lips like everyone else. Labia come in all different sizes and shapes.

The research I have done shows that a woman with a poor genital self-image is six times less likely to ever have been sexually satisfied than a woman with a good genital self-image. Releasing yourself from this belief that you are abnormal or strange looking or that your genitals are unattractive is really going to release you sexually as well and help you better enjoy a healthy sex life.

— Dr. Laura Berman

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