Rise in women seeking ‘designer’ vaginas
Following a dramatic rise in women seeking ‘designer’ vaginas, a research charity has released an animated documentary to highlight the issue.
The film called Centrefold was funded by the Wellcome Trust and features three women who have had labiaplasy- the surgical reduction of the inner labia – discussing their reasons for having had the procedure.
The surgery involves reducing the length or changing the shape of the inner labia or reshaping the outer labia to alter the external appearance of the genitalia.
According to recent figures, labiaplasty has increased fivefold in the last five years with 2000 procedures taking place last year alone on the NHS.
This figure is probably significantly higher in the private sector, where the procedure can cost up to £3,000.
One of the women interviewed explained how she searched pornographic websites, looking for women whose genitals were similar to her own and when she couldn’t find any she concluded it was “yet another piece of evidence that there was something was wrong with me.”
Although the procedure is a low priority, the NHS can offer the surgery if there is evidence of pain during intercourse, recurring infections or the need for reconstruction after trauma.
Despite the increase in labiaplasty there are no universal NHS guidelines on what ‘normal’ female genitalia should look like.
There is growing concern that women seeking labiaplasty should discuss the psychological reasons behind their need for it.
Dr Lih-Mei Liao, clinical psychologist at University College London Hospitals said: “When a woman says she is worried about her labia, surgeons may hear the word ‘labia’ and operate; I hear the word ‘worry’.”
She added that psychologists “simply aren’t being accessed as surgery is being presented as the obvious solution.”
One woman said: “I thought it was going to be the end of all my problems – I thought it was going to look lovely, like a little designer vagina.”
Though after the procedure she confessed:” Six or seven weeks on my labia is smaller but I still hate it. It looks like a big fat piggy’s nose peeking out of a pair of curtains.”
The two other women said they were fairly happy with the result, with one admitting: “It’s such a shame that was such a big stigma for me.”