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Designer Lady Bits

I was just cruising around on the internet the other day when I came across an article by Cosmo on the "Designer Vagina" (1). Naturally i had to read on.

Apparently "Cosmetic surgery to “improve” the look of female genitals is becoming more and more prevalent" but the " information on the internet about such procedures is often misleading, and sometimes downright false. Adding to the problem, there are also no universal guidelines to standardise these types of surgeries. This is extremely worrying for anyone thinking about altering their lady bits."

I was disturbed by this trend but not so surprised, as I think this is just one more step in the media or cultural war that says women (and increasingly men) must look a particular way to be considered beautiful or even acceptable. I say men too, as I am watching my 20 something son do things like shave or wax his chest, shoulders etc, blow dry his hair and be very aware of how he dresses all the time. Young men are under increasing pressure to look a certain way just as young women have been for the longest time..

As I pondered the Designer Vagina - my first thought was... do the women who are getting these procedures done, have any idea of the impact on their bodies and potential sexual pleasure?

Consider the information presented in "Women's Anatomy of Arousal" (2) by Sheri Winston. She speaks of the erectile tissue present in the female genitals that contribute to our sexual pleasure, specifically the vestibular bulbs nestled beneath the labial lips. These tissues engorge and become very sensitive and can work in tandem with the clitoris to increase arousal and orgasm.

One part of the study states "One site stated that ‘sexual gratification is directly related to the amount of frictional forces generated’ (presumably for male partners during vaginal intercourse) and that such ‘frictional forces’ could be improved by laser vaginal rejuvenation"(3). Howver Ms Winston states that if a woman is properly aroused the "bulbs make the vaginal opening both expandable and a snug fit, enabling reproduction to work well with almost any male"

For women undertaking what is euphemistically known as nipping and tucking the "bud" - do they actually realise that there are 6000-8000 nerve endings in the clitoris alone - why would you want to nip and tuck that? It would seem that in many cases, the surgery is actually cutting into the nerve system that makes sex pleasurable. And yet ironically, these women are told or think that the surgery will make their sex life better.

Who is it making it better for? What kind of sex is that? Is it from a porm movie where everyone looks the same? What kind of mate are they attracting?

It certainly doesn't sound like ecstatic, intimate sex where couples love each, and find pleasure in each other and themselves regardless of their different shapes and sizes.

Another reason women do it is because they feel unattractive or ashamed of their bodies. This shame can stem from many origins, it can be religious, from toxic relationships, abuse, low self esteem - the question of why people don't like themselves can be answered in many different ways. But I do wonder what level of self hatred towards the body would cause a woman to decide that mutilating herself is the only option for love and acceptance.

And what kind of medical practise or surgeon promotes this kind of surgery and uses language such as " “A woman might have a face lift and look really young until she goes to bed and a partner can see the evidence of ageing there." Where exactly do they mean? Why are they frightened of using proper terms? I wouldn't want anyone operating on me if they couldn't call a spade a spade - body parts have names. Are they using euphemisms to reflect mainstream shame and embarrassment or are they trying to engender shame by not using proper terms? Which is it?

Most people when they hear of genital mutilation like clitoral circumcision or infibulation (where the vaginal alls are sewn shut) are horrified yet here we have western women doing a similar thing in the name of fashion and no one bats an eyelid.

I would hope that a caring physician, when presented with a woman - a human being who was so dissatisfied with themselves as to want to resort to serious surgery, would counsel such an individual and help her to find acceptance and healing for the herself. Surely the money spent of the surgery could be better put to some other program of self nurturance and self love so that the woman could learn to love herself - genitals and all.

1. Cosmo - Designer Vagina

2. Women's Anatomy of Arousal by Sheri Winston

3. An analysis of the content and clinical implications of online advertisements for female genital cosmetic surgery


By Nadia MacLeod