The process of labia stretching involves pulling or weighing down the inner labia, or labia minora, in order to elongate them. It started as a cultural tradition in parts of ancient Africa, Asia, and the South Seas, but has since been adopted by some Western cultures, though on a much smaller scale. It is primarily done for appearances and sexual enhancement.
Labia stretching is typically approached with the goal of permanently increasing the length of the labia minora. The process of stretching must be done on a regular basis for an extended period of time in order to achieve lasting results. Regular stretching also continually increases the size of the labia. The lips can extend to just outside the labia majora or stretch down as far as a woman’s knees.
There are two primary ways of approaching labia stretching: via pulling or with the use of weights. Pulling is the method used most frequently in tribal societies. The weight method is more common among practitioners in Western nations.
Traditional labia stretching in areas of Sub-Saharan Africa such as Rwanda is considered to be a rite of passage. It is typically practiced over the course of several years, from puberty onwards. The girl will usually perform stretching by herself as a part of a regular routine, with possible inspection and guidance by an older female family member. The length of the stretched labia in traditional cultures depends upon the tribe and the geographical area. There is a wide variance in length.
Labia stretching equipment can also be purchased. It usually consists of a small teardrop-shaped weight which is attached to the labia via a clamp or clip. A woman is typically advised to start stretching with a lighter weight, to be increased as the process progresses. In order to achieve even stretching, the weights are usually attached to different areas for each session, or multiple weights are placed across the lips, rather than having one heavier weight in a single spot.
Many women who engage in labia stretching consider the results to be a point of pride and a sign of maturity and sexual readiness. The traditional practice is so ingrained in these cultures that it is not a question of whether a girl will begin stretching, but when. The practice has been the source of some controversy. There are groups who claim that it is an act of genital mutilation similar to female castration. Supporters of stretching claim that the two practices are widely different, as stretching is meant to increase sexual pleasure and control, while castration is meant to reduce those sensations.