Sex health experts take on labiaplasty

As an update to our coverage of labiaplasty and other such forms of vaginal surgery, check out the Montreal Gazette’s article, “Tailor-made vaginas a risky business.”
The piece discusses how a myriad of health dangers are concerning many health experts. The issue was raised at the 17th World Congress of Sexology, which was held in Montreal. I’m sure that was an interesting event.
“The pathologizing of changes associated with age creates a surgical esthetic,” in which sex surgery is used as “a valid form of psychotherapy,” said psychologist and sex therapist Laurie Betito.
Risks of vaginal surgery include infection, hemorrhaging, loss of sensitivity, scarring, nerve damage (causing a shitload of pain) and disfigurement.
While woman obviously have the choice to have this procedure done or not, many were concerned that the surgery is being advertised to the fullest.
The question of women’s motives were raised as well. While there is vaginal rejuvenation or “tightening” that may possibly help women who have had theirs stretched during childbirth, there’s speculation of whether this actually increases or decreases pleasure during intercourse. And labiaplasty just trims the vaginal lips, making them even or “neat.”
An additional issue was raised concerning society’s obsession with penis size, and the occurrence of implants and “stretchers” that men seek.
Betito’s take on all plastic surgery is that it’s just an attempt to appease underlying issues and insecurities that eventually catch up with you. “Once you get used the new ‘you’, then what?”
Thoughts?

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  • feistyredhead

    I cannot get over the fact that some men feel entitled to dictate what their partners’ genitalia should look like. I’m definitely in the “if you don’t like my pussy, take your dick elsewhere” camp. Or better yet, make some alterations yourself. ‘Cause if that’s how you roll, you’d better be prepared to hear complaints about your small dick/foreskin/low hanging balls, and you’d better fix ‘em to please me, honey. What’s good for the goose…

  • http://www.resonant.org/ Zed

    Actually, I don’t think this tends to be a dictation issue on either end (I’ve spent time with a number of fairly sexist guys, and not even they ever so much as hinted at wanting anyone they knew to have a labiaplasty, and for all the penis extenter ads that end up in spam, I’ve never heard of a woman saying, “Ooh, yeah, I want something to bruise my cervix!”) It’s mostly guys that tell other guys they need to have big dicks, and I think it’s women feeling age anxiety that are going for labiaplasties. (Vaginal tightening might be another matter, but I’ll leave that aside for now.)
    I’ll certainly agree that one partner should not be dictating to the other partner choices about body modifications, however — either to get them or not to get them. There’s a lot of conversation that can come short of “dictating”, though, and what two partners decide mutually, as part of the natural give and take of a relationship, is strictly between them, as long as all of the health implications are known.

  • http://www.pandagon.net Amanda Marcotte

    While there is vaginal rejuvenation or “tightening” that may possibly help women who have had theirs stretched during childbirth, there’s speculation of whether this actually increases or decreases pleasure during intercourse.
    Well, clearly that depends on who’s pleasure you’re talking about.

  • http://feministe.us/blog/ feministe

    Well, clearly that depends on who’s pleasure you’re talking about.
    Actually, I found some sexual differences after having my son. They were a source of great distress for some time… until I realized that all I cared about was the clitoris. So fuck it.

  • http://www.sillyseattle.blogspot.com Iguana

    Uh oh … you have a son?

  • http://www.pandagon.net Amanda Marcotte

    Iguana, I can’t for the life of me imagine why that matters one teeny-weeny bit to you.
    Every woman’s health book I’ve ever read suggests do those Kegel exercises when you’re pregnant, but I have no idea how well that actually works.

  • Terpiskore

    What a barbaric, porn-fueled atrocity this is for women.

  • http://www.pandagon.net Amanda Marcotte

    Porn: The only thing women have to worry about.

  • http://www.pandagon.net Amanda Marcotte

    For instance, there is no historical record of women being put through vile body modifications for male whims before the widespread use of pornography. None.
    By the way, and totally off-topic, did I ever tell y’all about reading about the skeleton they have on display in Baltimore, I do believe it is, that’s skeleton is misformed due to keeping her corset too tight? Reminded me, actually, of Chinese foot-binding and FGM. Of course, none of these things are really part of the systematic abuse of women, because, well, no cameras=no abuse.

  • Terpiskore

    Porn: one of the main influences on modern women’s decisions to surgically reconstruct their perfectly normal vaginas to aesthetically please men.
    Why even try to deny women are paying to have themselves cut up intimately to look like women in porn are made to look unless you’re so knee-jerkingly reactionary to any criticism of pornography’s influence on women’s body image your brain stops funstioning normally? That’s okay- the rest of us see the connection while your head’s stuck in the sand.

  • Amanda

    Im sure this has already been stated, but it is true that a larger labie is sometimes very painful and incredibly uncomfortable. I would know becuase I have a large labia and I have recently been looking for a site to send me to a good surgeon. I am sorry to say this, becuase you are very right when you say many women are trying to get a new vagina, or trying to keep old age from ruining thier sex life, but in my opinion, women with a large labia, myself included, find it very hard to be able to have a sex life. I am very happy with my partner, but I still am very uncomfortable and feel that with surgery I would be much more okay about my self and my body. I am not going to do it for a man, for goodness sake’s, no. But T obe able to be that much more comfortable in my own skin.

  • shadowlynes

    I realize that this thread is totally out of date, but I just wanted to state for any future readers that my girlfriend had one (a labiaplasty) before she’d ever had a boyfriend, and I’m positive that she’s never even seen any pornography. She was simply a very active athlete who was tired of the discomfort, and it got in her way. So, she had it trimmed down. No big deal. The operation, she says, was simple and quickly behind her.

  • Sylke

    There are other reasons for getting a vagina-tightening procedure: When a woman gets stretched/ripped during childbirth, she has to deal with the added risk of uterine prolapse. Those who enjoy anal stretching have to worry about rectal prolapse, though I haven’t read any information on this corrective surgery (I’m sure it’s out there). I’m glad that these very real problems are being seriously addressed by the medical community.
    I doubt that many women get said surgeries because of being “pressured” by their partners. Sometimes you are just born with something that makes you feel uncomfortable (such as an inverted nipple, an extremely long labia, etc.), sometimes circumstances (childbirth) change the physique in non-pleasing ways…I am glad that there are practitioners who are available to help women and men be comfortable in their own skins.
    If you want a genuine porn-as-pressure reasons for cosmetic surgery, look no further than the new option to bleach ones anus a pleasing pink (or, to use the catchphrase, “pornstar-pink”). No, I’m not joking.

  • Phil

    There are lots of men who get circumcised at their wife/girlfriend’s insistence, but I don’t hear any complaining about that.

  • Frenchwoman

    The breast form influences sexual temperament of the woman and the man now can build independently own sexual horoscopes depending on type and the size of a breast of the potential partner. I.e. sexual health of women – similarly man’s, or as they say in one known film: “At all the lacks…”