The key difference between labia and vulva is that labia refer to the two longitudinal fleshy folds of the vulva that protect internal genital organs, while vulva refers to the whole external genital organs of females.
There are several external genital organs in the female reproductive system. The area in which these female external genital organs are located is called the vulva. These external genital organs help to protect internal genital organs from infections, to facilitate sexual activity and to enable sperms entering the female reproductive system. Labia refer to the two lips of the vulva that protect the internal female genital organs. They are fleshy outer parts of the vulva.
What are Labia?
Labia are longitudinal fleshy folds of the vulva, so they are a part of the vulva. Functionally, labia encompass the whole sexual organ of females in order to protect internal organs. The two lips of the labia are recognized as the outer lip and inner lip.
The outer lip is known as labia majora, while the inner lip is known as labia minora. Labia majora are relatively large and contain sweat and sebaceous glands in order to secrete lubricating secretions. Hairs appear in labia majora during puberty. Labia majora are covered with the skin. Labia minora are inside the labia majora and they surround the openings to the vagina and urethra. Labia minora are pink in colour and rich in blood vessels. This part of the labia is more sensitive to stimulation. Labia minora is lined with a mucous membrane; hence it is moist. It is a hairless structure.
What is Vulva?
The vulva refers to the whole area of female external genital organs. It encompasses different parts, including the clitoris, labia minora and labia majora, the opening of the urethra and vagina and the surrounding tissue. These external female genital organs help to deliver sexual pleasure. Labia are the outer and inner lips of the vulva. The clitoris is a sensitive structure situated at the top of the vulva, and it is made up of spongy tissue. Opening of the urethra is a small hole located below the clitoris. Right below the urethral opening, the vaginal opening is situated. From this opening, menstrual blood comes out. Babies are also born through this vaginal opening. The perineum is also a part of the vulva, and it ends in the anus.
Pudendal arteries supply blood to the vulva while the pudendal nerve, perineal nerve, ilioinguinal nerve and their branches provide nerve supply to the vulva. Both these blood supply and nerve supply are helpful in sexual and reproductive processes.
What are the Similarities Between Labia and Vulva?
- Both labia and vulva belong to female external genital organs.
- Structurally, labia are the outer parts of the vulva.
- Vulva, together with labia, help to protect internal genital organs.
What is the Difference Between Labia and Vulva?
Labia are the two fleshy folds of the vulva, while the vulva is the whole area of external female sex organs. So, this is the key difference between labia and vulva. Structurally, labia are two fleshy lips, while the vulva consists of several structures, including fleshy lips, openings, surrounding tissues and spongy tissues. Functionally, the labia protect internal sex organs while the vulva protects internal sex organs, is responsible for sexual pleasure and enables sperm entry to the female reproductive system.
The below infographic lists the differences between labia and vulva in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Labia vs Vulva
Vulva refers to the external female genitalia, while labia are a part of the vulva. In fact, labia are the outer and inner fleshy folds of the vulva. Both vulva and labia help to protect internal female sex organs. Thus, this is the summary of what is the difference between labia and vulva.