Thursday, 3 October 2013

Why are women with normal genitals undergoing cosmetic surgery?

MaggieKirkman 125Many women’s view of what constitutes a “normal” vagina may be warped, according to Dr Maggie Kirkman of the Jean Hailes Research Unit.

The amount of women undergoing vaginal cosmetic surgery has more than tripled in the past 10 years, sometimes with harmful effects such as scarring, disfigurement, wound dehiscence, infection, genital prolapse, altered sexual sensation and psychological harm.

Writing for Medical Observer, Dr Kirkman explained that it’s difficult to know the exact causes for the surge in genital cosmetic surgery, but one possible explanation is the prevalence of manufactured images of nudity which may have led to both men and women failing to understand what a normal vagina actually looks like.

Dr Kirkman advocates for a greater understanding of the diversity in the appearance of genitalia, suggesting that medical practitioners should lead the charge. “Women’s genitals are as varied in appearance and symmetry as faces,” she said. “The ‘normal’ vulva is as difficult to characterise as the ‘normal’ face and equally subject to cultural and social expectations.”

Dr Kirkman will lead a team of researchers to collect more evidence on female genital cosmetic surgery (FGCS) in 2014. Her study will include in-depth interviews with women, consultation with doctors and beauty therapists and an online survey and analysis of social media.

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