I see a lot of vaginas (and penises for that matter); it’s part of my job and I’ve seen so many that any awkwardness or self consciousness that I may feel is now completely gone. However, for most people, whose work does not involve the examination of strangers’ genitalia on a daily basis, experience with what female genitals look like may be limited. It’s not really something people flash around. As such, how on earth are we supposed to know what’s normal, and more importantly what is healthy?
The most important thing to understand is that we are all beautifully unique and there is actually a huge diversity in how female genitals look. As long as the size or shape of your vulva or labias does not cause any discomfort then there is no reason to change anything.
If you have any concerns about how your genitals look or any lumps or bumps that you feel, talk to someone you trust or see your local doctor who does have a lot of experience looking at genitals. You can also visit the website labialibrary.org.au which has some excellent information on female genital anatomy and a huge range of pictures of different looking, healthy, “normal” genitals.
Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery
# The mystery surrounding female genitals is what health professionals believe is the driving factor behind a recent upsurge in female genital cosmetic surgery.
# Female genital cosmetic surgery usually involves a labiaplasty (trimming dangly bits) or vaginaplasty (quaintly called “vaginal rejuvenation” or more sickeningly “designer vagina” – basically to make your vagina tighter).
# Between 2001 and 2013 the number of women having cosmetic surgery on their vaginas has increased by 140%.
# The increase in genital cosmetic surgery has been attributed to the fact that we don’t see a lot of other people’s genitals throughout our lives, as well as little education or awareness about the wide spectrum of healthy anatomy, and social expectations of what is considered “normal” or “desirable”.
-Most people don’t know what healthy genitals look like.
– In the 21st century pornography is easily accessible on the Internet and increasingly watched by women; at the same time it is common for women to have hair removal whether via waxing or laser allowing full view of your vulva and labia. Sex education classes are focused on promoting safe sex (which is excellent) and may not cover what healthy genitals look like, the oozing syphilitic sores are much more exciting to look at.
– Images on the Internet or in magazines are often airbrushed to make women, and their genitals, more appealing.
# As such women, particularly young women, can see their genitals uncovered by pubic hair and often have nothing to compare it too apart from pornography. Understandably this can lead to confusion and distress that their genitals are “abnormal” or “ugly”.
-Sadly for some women their self-consciousness and concern can stem from comments made by someone else, perhaps a mother, friend, sexual partner or beauty therapist. Most people don’t know what healthy genitals look like or they might just be really mean – whatever the reason, it is inappropriate for them to pass judgment on your genitals. Sex is a vulnerable moment and never a good time to criticize someone’s physical appearance, let alone suggest that their vagina looks weird.
# We are all different and unique. The same applies to our genitals, there is a huge amount of diversity in the way our genitals look that is perfectly healthy. Our genitals come in all different shapes, sizes and colours and are very rarely symmetrical (nature isn’t fond of symmetry)
# There is no scientific evidence to support any benefits to genital cosmetic surgery, there is no evidence to support claims that labiaplasty leads to increased sexual satisfaction, and it does not improve hygiene or prevent thrush.
# There are risks to genital cosmetic surgery including bleeding, infection and scarring. Other risks include pain with sex and changes to sensation, which can affect arousal and enjoyment.
# As a doctor, I would not recommend surgery without a medical reason where the benefits outweigh the risks of undergoing a surgical procedure.
# As a woman, I would suggest that when it comes to our private parts, they are just that….PRIVATE. You choose who gets to see your genitals, and if their love, respect, admiration or attraction to you is diminished because your vulva doesn’t look like what they saw in a porno, then I would suggest that perhaps you are better off without their opinions.