Friday, January 22, 2021

Body image and vaginal rejuvenation surgery

This guest post provided by Heidi_PsyD from

It’s time to line up for the latest in designer goods: the designer vagina. Vaginal rejuvenation surgery — or vaginoplasty— is reconstructive surgery used to reconstruct the vaginal canal — and it is growing in popularity. Vaginal rejuvenation surgery is believed to be the third fastest growing of all surgical procedures as measured between the years 2005 and 2006 with an estimated 30 percent increase from one year to the next. But is the surgery needed or just another facet of negative body image and female self-hatred?

The idea that women are using the surgery as an effort to address negative body image is not a stretch, looking at the various websites. One, for example, states: “Women are now increasingly seeking it to improve the physical appearance of their genital area, or to increase sexual gratification. The benefits of the surgery are not confined to women of a particular age group. It can improve quality of life in affected women starting from teenagers.” Teenagers?

Let’s look at the options. There are several types of vaginal rejuvenation surgeries. These include labiaplasty, which reshapes the genital lips and to increase female sexual enjoyment, vaginoplasty, which tightens the muscles inside the vagina, hymenoplasty (or revirginization), which mimics the vaginal appearance of someone who has never been sexually active, and hoodectomy, in which the clitoral hood is reduced or removed entirely, allowing more access to the clitoris. As seen from these descriptions, most of the surgeries are cosmetic in nature, although some may have benefits for ureogynocological problems such as incontinence. The primary uses of the surgeries are aesthetic.

In returning to the issue of body image, it’s clear that body image concerns precede the decision for many of these surgeries. A recent study in Australia found that of of 800 surveyed, 75 per cent did not like their partner looking at their genitals during sex because they feared their body parts would be a turn-off. Forty-seven per cent were so concerned by their appearance that they were considering vaginal rejuvenation surgery.

Lead researcher Frances D’Arcy-Tehan, from the University of Sydney said negative genital image was having a critical psychological impact on women’s health. She called on doctors and psychologists to help allay women’s fears by explaining the variations of women’s genitalia talking about how these body parts can be misrepresented in pornography.

”In my private practice I had a 16-year-old girl who came in and said her 18-year-old boyfriend told her vagina didn’t look like the images he saw on the internet,” D’Arcy-Tehan said. ”Young women are very confused.”

As with other type of body image issues, working on body acceptance is a critical component. Although surgery can change what is on the outside, it cannot change the inner views and perceptions of one’s body. If you are struggling with any type of distorted body image please seek help.



8 Responses to “Body image and vaginal rejuvenation surgery”
  1. Adel says:

    That’s just so sad. In addition to the myriad things teens have to worry about, now there’s “Is my vulva pretty?” I’m sick to death of the porn industry dictating how a woman’s genitals and breasts should look. That 17 year old’s vulva looked perfectly normal to me. I don’t want to be judge-y, but WTF is up with the mother taking her daughter to surgeon over this? Disturbing on so many levels. I’m 46 years old how, and as a young girl, we just didn’t worry if our genitals were acceptable or not. We all assumed they were because – heh – they were genitals! They even had hair and WE WERE COOL WITH THAT! And so were the men in our lives. All I can say is I’m glad I’m not a teen at this point in our culture. It truly sucks for them.

  2. How is this any different to the genital mutilation of female circumcision?

    • Melly says:

      1. It is elective
      2. It does not completely destroy sexual function

      I’m no fan of the vaginal surgery trend AT ALL, and I find it really upsetting that even this part of our bodies is now a source of self-consciousness. But I think it’s hyperbolic and unhelpful to compare it to the pain and mutilation of having the entire clitoris and labia removed to make sexual pleasure permanently unachievable.

  3. Aeryn says:

    I think one of the reasons that the research in Australia showed such a high ratio is because pornography that shows natural/non altered/normal female genitals is illegal. It’s called ‘genital detail’.

    “The hungry beast’ did a great documentary on labiaplasty and the law regarding genitals in the Australian media. (

    When you consider depicting ‘normal’ vagina’s/genitals is illegal in Australia, is it surprising that 75 per cent of Aussie chicks don’t like their bits or think they are abnormal?

  4. Chelsea says:

    I don’t know where to start with what’s wrong with this. If guys think all vaginas look like what they see in porn, they are not well-educated. If women think it’s ok to think, “Does my va-jay-jay make me look fat?”, they are in for a lifetime of bad body-image issues.

  5. JB says:

    I had labiaplasty a few years ago. In one way it was one of the best things I’ve ever done, in another, one of the worst.

    One of my labia minora was a “normal” size but the other extended beyond the labia majora and was always rubbing against my clothing, causing me a great deal of discomfort and pain. Wearing jeans etc could be awful if I’d not been able to position everything in a way that didn’t rub.

    Fortunately I’d never received any adverse comments from men about the way things looked down there, but having seen enough on the internet, I can easily understand why girls/women could think they are abnormal when all they see is women who’ve been “tidied up” to suit men (made to look like children, frankly).

    I was very happy to get rid of all the soreness, but the surgeon pretty much removed the whole of the labia majora but left all the skin around the clitoris so it now looks misshapen and butchered. In a way I feel disfigured now, when I didn’t before I had the operation!

    I cannot condemn women who, like me, had labiaplasty in order to alleviate pain, but to go through what I did just for vanity – it’s not worth it!

    As for the men who complain their girlfriends’ “bits” don’t look like those they’ve seen in porn, well, how many of them can say they have pornstar-style equipment themselves?!

  6. ME says:

    I am seriously considering getting this done. Like JB my labia minora are larger than the labia majora by quite a bit and I would do it only to stop the pain I have during and after sex. For me this isn’t about what it looks like, I have never – EVER – had any complaints/ negative comments from guys about it, in fact the only comments I have had about it were positive. I want to do this so that I am not in a world of pain during intercourse and for days after.

    I totally understand that some people wont “get it”, won’t understand why someone would want to do this to themselves, but try putting yourself in my shoes … or jeans before you judge it too harshly.

    Don’t get me wrong – if teenage girls or even women are doing this because they think their bits aren’t pretty or some bottom feeder told them they look weird down there they should either be educated to what “normal” actually is or be referred to therapy sessions – NO ONE should do this for looks.

    • mamaV says:

      Hi ME: Your situation is totally different, and thanks for educating us on this (I didn’t realize there was pain involved). I think most woman would be very supportive of this type of surgery for you — I am thinking though insurance will not pay for it?

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