Women's Health Friday May 15, 2015

'Designer Vaginas': What Is Normal?

Designer vaginas are all the rage. No seriously. We've gone from boob jobs, tummy tucks and Botox to 'female genital cosmetic surgery', or FGCS.

The term 'designer vagina' is a grossly inaccurate and potentially harmful term for the reality of the procedure. FGCS procedures have been steadily growing over the last few years, as some women look to tidy up 'downstairs', however, this isn't just a vanity issue. Most of the procedures are related to social and/or health issues that cannot be ignored.

We tend to think cosmetic surgery is reserved for those who think about their appearance a little too much, and whilst this can be the case occasionally, often the decision to have surgery is based on many other underlying factors. It's high time for us to step away from the cosmetic surgery-vanity connection and be realistic about why we have these procedures, in particular, FGCS.

How should it look?

There is no way to describe how a vagina looks because there are soooo many variations. However, it's safe to say that many of us tend to remove at least a third of our pubic hair. Whether it's waxing, hair removal creams, shaving or trimming with the latest gadget, we all have our routine when it comes to the lady garden. Our concept of what a vagina should look like is mainly based on the media - airbrushed imagery in the top glossy magazines and smooth porn stars with not a hair in sight can make us feel our vagina is a little… inadequate.

In reality, we should be proud of our genitals, and celebrate them if we wish, perhaps taking inspiration from The Great Wall of Vagina by sculptor Jamie McCartney. And any procedures carried out in this area should only really be for very good reasons.

The procedures

Vaginoplasty - The main aim is to tighten the vagina, so this is classed as reconstructive surgery.

Labiaplasty – Surgery just for the labia is a more cosmetic procedure to improve the look and possibly your quality of life.

So why opt for a vaginal revamp?

The reasons for a vaginal makeover are more diverse than you would think. Here are the top 4 reasons women consider vagina surgery:


This will probably come as no surprise to any woman who has given birth. Following childbirth the vagina will often feel 'looser', and some women also experience swelling, dryness, soreness and even pain during sex. This can be not only incredibly uncomfortable, but also affect confidence.


This stems from the "am I normal?" debate we all have with ourselves. Yes, you most likely are, but this doesn't mean you aren't allowed to make any changes. Some women have large labia (the vaginal lips) and the very thought of a swimsuit, tight trousers or sexy underwear can leave them in a cold sweat. The confidence boost that results from having this one area altered can help some women feel far more comfortable with themselves.

Pain and discomfort

This can be a reason for either a reconstructive (vaginoplasty) or cosmetic (labiaplasty) procedure. This is not only an aesthetic issue as, for many women, having large labia can be extremely sore and painful. It isn't uncommon to have labia that are completely different sizes, causing even more discomfort.


Hymenoplasty is the procedure giving women their symbolic 'virginity' back – as if it wasn't bad enough the first time. However, this procedure is potentially life saving for women who have had sex outside of the guidelines of their lifestyle. For example, whether it was consensual or not, if a Muslim woman from a strict upbringing is not a virgin when she gets married, she is at risk of persecution and quite possibly death.

Despite the unrealistic expectations placed on this aspect of a women's appearance, possibly resulting from recent trends for full pubic hair removal, research has shown that it is women criticised by their partner who are more likely to consider FGCS. This is not on. With so many variations out there, if this is the case then it's high time you got yourself a new partner - not a new vagina.

To summarise

'Designer vagina' is an inaccurate and potentially offensive term for a procedure that can be essential for the woman involved. Any surgery should be done for the right reasons. If you have concerned about your genitalia, making changes can significantly improve your standard of living and give you a level of confidence you thought you would never experience. However, we cannot stress enough how wonderfully different our vaginas are. For purely aesthetical reasons, especially based on comments from individuals, there is no reason to alter your perfectly attractive and fully functional anatomy for the sake of an unrealistic ideal.

Let's get wise about FGCS.


http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/27/need-to-know-designer-vagina-surgery_n_2772617.html http://www.webmd.com/women/vaginoplasty-and-labiaplasty-procedures http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/08/the-great-wall-of-vagina_n_4556309.html

Latest Stories

Get your daily dose of inspiration from our Best of healthexpress blog , where we showcase some of the most stunning stories and information.

Women's Health

Men & Your Body Hair; Do You Car...

There's no point beating around the bush here (pun intended); beauty is a trait adhered to in our society. You can become a global superstar with...

Women's Health

Period & Fertility Tracker Apps:...

How jealous must our ancestors be that we can see the future, with regards to our fertility? Female-friendly apps are great for period tracking and...

Women's Health

Why Are So Many Women Still Skip...

Cervical Screening Awareness Week is upon us and yes, there IS a week for absolutely everything. But rather than the pointlessness of Steak and...

Women's Health

4 Possible Reasons For An Itchy ...

Many of us have that irrational fear when something goes wrong downstairs. Am I pregnant? Do I have an STI? Do I have ALL THE STIs? I'm pregnant...

Women's Health

Is This Menopause? How To Tell

Menopause is a completely normal and natural state of life to reach, but we don't like to talk about it. That's probably because women are so often...

Group Of Women
Women's Health

Hirsutism Q&A - With The Hirsuti...

Hirsutism is a condition that causes a woman (or man) to develop excessive hair growth on parts of the body including face, neck, chest, stomach,...

Load More Stories
comments powered by Disqus