The survey found 97% of GPs had been asked about genital
“normality” and more than half had seen patients ranging in age
from as young as 10 to 65 years old requesting female genital
More than half the GPs surveyed suspected psychological
disturbances in their patients including anxiety, depression,
body dysmorphic disorder, eating disorders, relationship
difficulties or a history of sexual abuse.
“Most patients I see requesting genital cosmetic surgery are
extremely poorly informed about normal anatomy, based on porn,”
one GP told researchers.
One women’s health practitioner with 30 years’ experience
described a patient who had been “coerced” into having the
surgery by her ex-husband who “humiliated her and made her feel
she was abnormal and unlovable”.
Another said the trend for “full Brazilian hair removal” had
“uncovered” vulvas and made them “more visible to women and
“Many people think that a ‘normal’ vulva is supposed to look
somewhat pre-pubertal,” the doctor said.
“There are people building a business around labiaplasty,
advertising images online of women with prepubertal genitalia,
depicting it as the desirable norm and a lifestyle choice,” Dr
Magdalena Simonis, who lead the study, said.
“The figures are only the tip of the iceberg – they only
capture the procedures surgeons charge to Medicare,” the
study’s supervisor Dr Jason Ong said.
This month the Medical Board of Australia began advising that
girls under 18 who ask for vulvoplasty should receive
counselling and a three-month cooling-off period to ensure they
are aware of the implications of surgery.