Dr Neema Sharma, Director, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Fortis Vasant Kunj, says that one of the most sensitive parts of the female anatomy, the vagina, is an elastic and muscular canal that has a soft, flexible lining that allows for lubrication. The vagina is made up of the vulva which consists of the labia, vaginal opening, clitoris, and urethra.The vaginal vestibule is also known as the opening of the vagina which receives the penis during sexual intercourse, and from where menstrual bleeding and childbirth take place. The vaginal wall is muscular and covered with a mucus membrane. It has layers of tissues that have many elastic fibers. The surface of the wall also contains pleats of extra tissue, rugae, which allows for the expansion of the vagina during sex or childbirth.
The hymen is a thin membrane that surrounds the opening to the vagina and is in the shape of a half-moon, allowing menstrual blood to leave the vagina. The hymen can be broken as a result of vigorous physical exercise, sexual intercourse or if something is inserted into the vagina. Imperforate hymen, Microperforated hymen, Septate hymen are conditions of the hymen which may require minor surgery to be corrected.
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When girls hit puberty, their bodies undergo several hormonal changes. Changes in the colour of the skin in the genital area and underarms are common. However, if this is accompanied with itching it is usually indicative of an infection. During the onset of puberty, hormones cause an increase in vulval skin thickness. The labial skin becomes rugose and leads to discolouration.
During the reproductive years, the vulval skin reaches its fullest thickness which further can cause discolouration. During pregnancy, the increase in total blood volume heightens the colouration of the vulva.
Dr Neema Sharma, says that sometimes darkening is due to genetics Other causes could be lack of ventilation, lot of moisture, sweat, friction and tight clothing. The excessive darkening can be due to hormonal imbalance. While the labia majora, or the external lips of the vulva can be lightened; many request lightening of the labia minora, or inner lips, as well, though this is not recommended.
One must see a gynecologist if there is itching, redness, and discharge. If one wants to keep their vaginal area from becoming dark, they can follow the below-mentioned steps:
- Keep the area dry
- Avoid tight clothes
- Wear cotton undergarments
Any symptoms of PCOS see a gynecologist
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If you want to lighten the colour of your vagina, the following remedies can be tried: (can be directly applied on the vaginal lips)
- Aloe Vera
- Lemon juice
- Cucumber juice
- Egg white
- Coconut Oil and honey
- Butter Milk
- Olive Oil
Usually, when the vagina darkens it does not indicate a serious medical problem. However, in case the following symptoms appear, one must consult their gynecologist immediately:
- A change in the colour, odour or amount of vaginal discharge.
- Vaginal redness or itching
- Vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex or after menopause
- A mass or bulge in your vagina
- Pain during intercourse
In conclusion, vaginal darkening happens to every woman as they age. It's not unnatural and is part and parcel of being a woman.