A gynaecologist answers all of your sex questions

from facts about the G spot, to painful penetration

“The first thing to mention is that no vulva is the same,” says Dr Shirin.  “There is no one right way for a vulva (female genitalia) to look, which also means that there’s no such thing as a perfect one.”

Phew, right? Turns out there are plenty of beautiful differences. “The labia, or lips—which vary from person to person—seem to be under the greatest scrutiny by my patients. The fact is that the two lips of the vulva are not identical on the same person. Just as our two eyes are not the same size, our ears, breasts, and lips of our labia are neither identical nor symmetrical.
“Labia minora (the smaller, inner lips that surround the vaginal opening) come in a whole range of different lengths from woman to woman. And there is often a significant difference between the left and right labia minora, so it’s completely normal if yours are different sizes.

The Great Wall of Vagina by Jamie McCartney

“Both the clitoris and the labia majora also both vary broadly in size and of course, your vagina’s width and length adjust during intercourse and birth.”

If you are feeling self-conscious, however, there’s no shame in visiting your GP. “If someone has a genuine problem, whether that is how they feel about the appearance of their labia, the laxity or stress-urinary incontinence, then there are a number of treatments available which can offer a real solution for this.”

What is healthy discharge, and what is unhealthy?

Now you know what a healthy vulva looks like, what about the stuff that comes out of it? Dr Shirin says: “Your vagina has a dynamic and finely tuned ecosystem. It includes a specific balance of bacteria, pH and moisture. This balance is sensitive to changes, from within and outside your body, and it doesn’t always take much to throw it off.

“It’s normal to notice different types of fluid throughout your cycle—fluid changes cyclically along with your hormones, in appearance, consistency and volume. It also changes when you’re aroused and during and after pregnancy.”

So when do you need to visit your gynae? “Significant or sudden changes in the smell, colour or consistency of your fluid might mean something else is going on, like an infection that needs treatment.”

Why have I lost my sex drive?

It’s pretty common for people to lose their libido at some point during their lives, but that doesn’t mean their sex life is doomed.

Dr Shirin explains: “There are essentially two reasons why we lose sexual desire: a lack of psychological desire for sex or a lack of a physical response to sexual stimulation. Speak to a doctor to confirm that there are no underlying conditions and then work with your partner to find out what works for you.”

Turns out self-esteem plays a huge part, too. She says: “Being comfortable in your own skin is a major factor to promoting sexual health. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about body confidence, good health and communication with your partner.”

And remember, if you’re struggling with your sexual desire, reach out and reclaim it. “Speak to other women, speak to your doctor and don’t suffer with anything in silence.”

Written by Claire Blackmore, @cla_ireb