Labiaplasty, my Asty.

Doctors say these women request the procedure because they are afraid of having "old looking" vaginas. Doctors Loftus and Young say feedback from male partners is the number one reason women request the surgery.

"The most common reason we hear is that they have had a negative comment made by a male sexual partner. Women are made to feel that they are not perfect the way they are and often it's the partner that sets this off," Loftus said.

"My feeling is that women who aren't sex workers are getting this kind of thing because there's pressure from someone who's telling them they're not perfect," Young said. 'There's often pressure from a man who tells them they need it,"

So, the next time someone tells you they're doing this for themselves and no one else, I'd suggest you call them on it, since that's likely hogwash.

Of course, even knowing this, the plastic surgeons continue. Why aren't we hearing them counseling their patients about body image, about the fact that adapting their bodies surgically for someone else's standards postions them for REDUCED self-worth overall, especially when data from all over the place supports that once a woman starts with cosmetic surgeries, it often is a neverending habit, putting how she looks at the perpetual whim of everyone else? Has no one really LOOKED at Michael Jackson or Cher lately? Why aren't these surgeons asking the women to question a partner's sexual ideals, rather than looking to conform to them, especially with a surgery that often reduces her sexual sensation and thus, enjoyment (oddly, many surgeons who do this will go on and on that sensation won't change, that they aren't cutting the clitoris, which is disturbing: the crura, or legs, of the clitoris DO reach into the labia minora, which ARE rich with nerve endings and part of genital sensation. So, are these docs lying, or is the man or woman with the knife down there actually that uneducated about genital anatomy?)?

Isn't it kind of dangerous to go clipping the skin that protects the sensual center of (the) body?

According to more than a few doctors, yes. In a recent Bitch article, "Vulva Goldmine" (Vol. 11), Dr. Malcolm Lesavoy cautions that "any time you make an incision, you have decreased sensitivity." Lesavoy, who teaches plastic surgery at UCLA (Dr. Alter's alma mater) continues, "I would caution anyone against having genital surgeries for cosmetic reasons. I think they're fraught with dangers." (that piece cached here.)

Moreover, why are women trusting these surgeons at all, when their livlihood is grossly enhanced by these procedures?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'll consider this whole bag with a lot less cynicism when I meet or even hear about ONE woman who does not have male sex partners or clients, but female ones, wanting this surgery. (Which isn't to say, "Men are to blame!" so much as it is to say that a whole lot of women need to start coming to the sexual table from a place of equality, to be treated and treat herself more like a person and less than an object, and to be assertive when it comes to informing male partners that the appearance of the female genitals is as normal, natrual and perfect, needing no aesthetic alteration, as that of the male genitals. Of course, that'd require she knew that about her own body first. Women might also do well to consider how strange and even disturbing it is, as well, to want the adult genitals to resemble PRE-adult genitals for adult sexual purposes. Shouldn't that be a paradox? Rather than being a selling point, shouldn't that make us shudder?)

But that hasn't happened yet. Go figure.

(As an aside, it might be worth a ponder or twelve when it comes to the men making these comments or directives. Is it possible that one things feeding into this is the fact that so many men, per circumcision, have already been genitally mutilated themselves, don't know what they lost, and thus figure it's no big deal?)

(Original comments for this entry can be found


I can understand being angry that a lot of women want to rush out and change the look of their labia minora because they feel they don't "look right" but you trashing women who were naturally born with very small labia or none at all is proof that you are no better then the people who are trying to say that there's something wrong with large labia.

"Women might also do well to consider how strange and even disturbing it is, as well, to want the adult genitals to resemble PRE-adult genitals for adult sexual purposes."

My labia is very small in the fact that it does not go completely around the vulva. I am not "under developed" and I don't have anything wrong with my hormones yet they are small. A lot of the women in my family are the same way. So are you saying that I'm a freak because of this and that no one would want to have sex with me because I don't look like "an adult"? Not only that but I've spoken to women who have either small labia or none at all and they experience a great deal of sexual pleasure even though their labia doesn't hang down past their labia majora.

What's truly disturbing is when women don't like it when they are being put down because of how they look yet they do the exact same thing to others in order to jump start their egos.

Bella, I think you misunderstood and leapt to a lot of hasty conclusions and assumptions here (which also includes assuming you know what my vulva looks like, one heck of an assumption if we've never met and gotten pretty intimate).

When I say someone is aspiring to want THEIR adult genitals to look pre-adult, that was commentary about people stating they do not want their vulvas to be "old-looking." What that suggests is that someone wants their vulva to look "young" or pre-adult.

That was NOT a bash on the size or shape of anyone's given vulva, which wasn't discussed at all in this piece: I did not suggest what a given person's pre-pubescent vulva might look like, and it begs a pretty good question, since there's no one way the vulvas of anyone of any age look. No one said anything about anyone being under-developed, and no one said anything about anyone with smaller labia or other portions of the vulva as-is being problematic or indicative of a hormone issue or any issue at all. I certainly was not saying you or anyone else was a freak. And this was certainly not about my ego, nor is my ego made to feel better by women having self-image issues of any kind.

Editor & Founder, Scarleteen: Sex Ed for the Real World
Author, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and Col