WHY DO WOMEN WANT DESIGNER VAGINAS?The number of women and teenagers undertaking genital cosmetic surgery in Australia is increasing at an alarming rate, as they turn to surgeons in their pursuit of so-called ‘designer vaginas’.
The most popular procedure is labiaplasty, which is covered by Medicare. Although parental permission is required, this procedure has been performed on girls as young as 14 years old.
Many people think the external genitals of a woman are called the vagina, but this is wrong. The vagina is the tube or passage inside, which is not really visible from the outside. What you can see from the outside is the vulva, and it’s the vulva that so many women would like to have surgically altered. The main features of the vulva are the four labia, or lips.
There are two outer labia, which are called the ‘labia majora’, and two smaller labia, or ‘labia minora’.
Some women are unhappy with the appearance of their labia minora, complaining that they are too long, too irregular, or just ugly, and that they should not protrude. Some women have seen their labia change in appearance after giving birth naturally.
Some believe that labiaplasty, the surgical reduction of the size of their labia, will make them look normal again.
But what is normal? During the last decade, images of female genitals have become widely available on the Internet, but many of these images are totally unrealistic and don’t depict normal variations. It often seems like a case of cosmetic surgeons and other health professionals playing on the insecurities of women.
Labiaplasty surgery can have damaging after effects, such as infection, scarring, and painful sex. Sometimes labiaplasty results in painful labia, particularly if the surgeon makes the labia too short or sculpts the tissue in a certain way.
I am not sure that the surgeons who are happily cutting off pieces of labia realise the additional problems that can occur with this procedure.
Frances D’Arcy-Tehan, a psychologist and clinical sexologist in Geelong, Victoria, became aware of women’s genital anxieties and their impact on self-esteem through her private practice work. She asked women to take part in an online survey for her PhD topic, The Effects of Genital Image and Body Image on Sexual Functioning in Women, and hopes the research will contribute to improve women’s sexual health and well-being.
In her research she found that to prevent unnecessary surgery it is important to educate health professionals and the public about the anatomy and physiology of the vulva. The labia minora is a highly sensitive sexual organ and plays an important role for sexual response. It is dense with nerve endings and sensory receptors, which are highly sensitive to light touch.
The main function of the vulva is to give pleasure, and labiaplasty has the obvious potential to destroy an erogenous zone and can lead to lack of arousal and impede orgasmic responses.
My advice is to seriously think again before spending a fortune on an operation that cannot be reversed, and may have lasting effects on your sex life.