Young Women Are Now Asking For Vagina Surgery Due To Pressures To Be ‘Perfect’

According to NHS figures, more than 200 girls in the UK had surgery on their vagina with more than 150 of those under 15 years old.

With pressures upon women to look like a certain ideal, even the most intimate parts of the body can make someone deeply unhappy with their appearance. From pornography to social media, the way in which a vagina ‘should’ look has caused a massive effect on many young women. Some –  even below ten years old – are seeking a surgery which is known as labiaplasty to change how their bodies look.

Dr. Naomi Crouch, chair of the British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology, said that while GPs are referring increasing numbers of young girls for the operation, she has never come across a girl who needed it for medical reasons. She commented on this rise in risky procedure on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show saying that: “Girls will sometimes come out with comments like, ‘I just hate it, I just want it removed,’ and for a girl to feel that way about any part of her body – especially a part that’s intimate – is very upsetting”.

Paquita de Zulueta, a GP with more than 30 years’ experience, also said she’d noticed a rise in girls being distressed by the appearance of their labia in the last few years. “I’m seeing young girls around 11, 12, 13 thinking there’s something wrong with their vulva – that they’re the wrong shape, the wrong size, and really expressing almost disgust,” Dr. De Zulueta told the BBC. “Their perception is that the inner lips should be invisible, almost like a Barbie, but the reality is that there is a huge variation. It’s very normal for the lips to protrude.”

One girl in her 20s, given the pseudonym Anna, told the BBC she considered having the surgery when she was 14 but later changed her mind – and was glad she did because she now realises she looks “totally normal”. She continued: “I just picked up from somewhere that it wasn’t neat enough or tidy enough and I think I wanted it to be smaller. People around me were watching porn and I just had this idea that it should be symmetrical and not sticking out […] I thought that was what everyone else looked like, because I hadn’t seen any normal everyday [images] before then. I remember thinking, ‘If there’s surgery for it, then clearly I’m not the only one who wants this done, and maybe it won’t be that big a deal’.”
A much more accessible, honest and open conversation needs to occur to educate girls that we’re all different; “just as we all look different in our faces – we all look different down there, and that’s OK,” Dr. De Zulueta added.