This has been a problem for many years now and my partner has only performed oral sex on me twice in a year.
I have become very self conscious and embarrassed - it is causing undue stress in our sex life and we're losing the intimacy we so need. Please can you advise?
A. Please let me reassure you that having inner lips which protrude is perfectly normal. I'd generally say leave well alone, but you're obviously very troubled by this long-standing problem. Have you talked to your partner about your concerns? Maybe it has nothing to do with how your labia look - some guys just aren't into oral sex - regardless of whether your vulva has generous inner labia or everything is hidden.
Before going down the surgery route, do check out the Vulval Health Awareness Campaign website. You can see vulvas of all shapes and sizes on this helpful and informative site - which I think you'll find reassuring. They also have a helpline: 07765 947 599. If you still want to explore the possibility of reduction surgery (labiaplasty) it's essential to do your homework and find the best and most experienced surgeon possible. He should be a registered member of the GMC (General Medical Council) and also BAAPS (the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons).
The op can be carried out under general or local anaesthetic, it takes between one and two hours and you should choose to have it performed somewhere that's registered with the Healthcare Commission (the UK's health watchdog). The inner labia can be reshaped by scalpel or laser. Laser surgery is reputed to be more precise, with less downtime after the op (intercourse isn't recommended until 4-6 weeks after surgery whichever method is used).
Labiaplasty can cost anything between £1250 and £4000. BAAPS has an advice line 020 7405 2234 or go to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons website. Also visit the cosmetic surgery pages on the Department of Health website where you'll find info on female genital reshaping.