Health News - Study reveals patients as young as 11 years old seeking cosmetic surgery for ‘perfect vaginas’

Published: 1 September, 2011

Concerns over women’s self-image

A STUDY has revealed concerns over young women wanting surgery on their genitalia for cosmetic reasons.

The dimensions of 33 women – the average age was 23 years old – requesting “perfect vaginas” on the NHS were assessed by Elizabeth Garrett Anderson gynecologists and researchers from University College London Institute of Women’s Health.

Most of the women wanted labia minora reduction surgery to improve appearance and just three had legitimate problems with “asymmetry”, the Bloomsbury report added.

Other complaints included reducing discomfort, improving confidence and wanting to improve sexual intercourse. Experts also believe the young women may be conforming to pornographic images.

Report author Sarah Creighton, a consultant gynecologist at the UCL Institute of Women’s Health, has published her research in the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

She said: “A particular concern is the age of some of the referred patients, one as young as 11 years old. It is surprising that all of the study participants had normal sized labia minora and despite this nearly half were still keen to pursue surgery as an option.

“Development of the external genitalia continues throughout adolescence and in particular the labia minora may develop asymmetrically initially and become more symmetrical in time.”

The study also looked at how old the women were when they first became ashamed about the size of genitals.

Out of 28 responding to this question, five were under the age of 10; ten were between 11 and 15; five were between 16 and 20; four were in their 20s; and three in their 30s.

Reasons for this dissatisfaction included an increasing self awareness of the genital area, physical discomfort, comments from a partner and watching TV programmes on cosmetic genital surgery.

Pierre Martin-Hirsch, the deputy editor of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said: “Clear guidance is needed for clinicians on how best to care for women seeking surgery.”


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