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Hongkongers tend to demean darkened vulvas as “black abalones”.
First, we have to understand that the vulva is supposed to be darker! Genital skin generally has more melanin-producing skin cells. Hyperpigmentation can appear on both labia majora and minora, clitoral hood and perineum. And the darkening doesn’t have to be uniform. Irregular distribution can occur naturally or after trauma.
So what would cause melanin to accumulate in the vulva?
1. Hormonal change
Hormonal changes happen during puberty, menopause, pregnancy and contraception pill usage. These may cause dark pigments to accumulate.
2. Injured vulva darkens
Just as scars are left after skin damage, the vulva may darken this way as well. The causes for injury include inflammation, trauma, skin diseases, skin treatments, etc. Some fungi that grow in the private parts, such as lichen sclerosis and lichen planus, could lead to inflammation and darkening of vulva skin. Ethnicities with darker skin tone tend to have more significant hyperpigmentation after trauma. Long-term exposure to damp environments could cause inflammation too. That means wearing thick pants that trap sweat, or not changing menstrual pads frequently, could lead to darkening skin as well.
3. Friction can cause damage too!
When we talk about injury, we might imagine things like bleeding. However, friction experienced on a daily basis could cause trauma and melanin production too. Friction can come from many means, for example:
- Hair removal, whether by shaving, waxing or laser treatment.
- Wearing tight pants and underwear
- Intercourse can be one of the reasons as well
Even though intercourse could cause darkened vulvas, we can’t blame every darkened vulva on frequent sex. Plus, so what if someone has sex often? Slut shaming is so outdated in the 21st Century.
So why do female pornstars have light-toned vulvas? A lot of them undergo whitening treatments, e.g. laser treatments and topical ointments. Their white vulvas are often not natural-born. Some people might consider cosmetic surgery to deal with vulva hyperpigmentation, but one has to consider the time and financial cost of whitening treatments, and the fact that a whitened vulva itself does not improve sexual gratification.
If you partner despises or humiliates you for having a darker vulva, and urges you to undergo treatment, you have to ask if they are worth the risk. Would they want to have sex with you more then? Does that mean they would love you more?