I love my vagina. So, do I want gynaecological cosmetic surgery?
It’s not just about the pornography-influenced obsession with removing pubic hair. It’s also about the sort of surgery that makes you cross your legs. Typical procedures include labiaplasty (trimming or removing the labia) and vaginal rejuvenation (tightening – usually referred to by “designer vagina”).
In the US, this industry is worth $6.8m (£4.4m).
And the risks of labiaplasty is high: permanent scarring, infections, bleeding and irritation.
I recently read of a woman GP in London very concerned by the number of girls in their mid-teens coming to her worried about what their genitals looked like: she thought it was becoming an issue largely because of the fashion for shaving off pubic hair, which made them more self-conscious. Of course, there are rare cases where there is an underlying medical reason for this surgery, but they are just that, extremely rare.
Is this a new form of body dysmorphic disorder? Or is it a logical extension of the pornification of our culture. As it becomes more acceptable for young people to watch porn (where a “standardised” genital appearance is encouraged and many of the women have no pubic hair), so young women having their first sexual experiences are being measuring – and measuring themselves – against this weird porn “norm”. I look at porn sites let me be open and transparent about that. And some girls seem to have very small or almost no labia. In a world where not even your labia can ever be pretty enough, it’s time to fight back and just love your vagina.
That’s female gynaecological cosmetic surgery for you. However, that brings me conveniently onto female genital mutilation which definitely has no benefits and surgery is sometimes required in later life to open-up or seal the vagina again.
Female genital mutilation involves the removal of the clitoris, inner-and-outer lips of the vagina, and the sewing or stapling together of the two sides of the vulva leaving only a small hole to pass urine and menstruate – depending on the type. Typically, FGM is performed with a razor blade on girls between the ages of 4 and 12, traditionally without anaesthetic.
Type one FGM would be like removing a male’s testes, type three is equivalent to removing both the testes and the penis. There is no way that can be deemed acceptable.
FGM can lead to severe bleeding, pain, complete loss of sensitivity, complications during childbirth, infertility, severe pain during sex, recurring infections and urine retention. And in some cases, it is lethal. Unlike male circumcision, female genital mutilation also inhibits sexual pleasure.
FGM can be performed in different ways, with the main three: clitoridectomy, excision and infibulation. Now that’s the sort of surgery that will make you cross your legs.
I support campaigns against FGM. Please join me.