Tuesday 27 September 2016

Dr Ciara Kelly on vaginal rejuvenation: 'Is there really no bit of us that is just good enough?'

Published 09/05/2016 | 02:30

Studies from the UK show that there has been a 500pc rise in cosmetic genital surgery in the last decade.
Studies from the UK show that there has been a 500pc rise in cosmetic genital surgery in the last decade.

Okay. What the actual hell? There I was pottering around my kitchen - I'm a world class potterer if I do say so myself - when on my radio pops up an ad advising me, if I'm not full of the joys of life, that a vaginal rejuvenation might be just the thing. Yes you heard that right

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A vaginal rejuvenation. On the radio. I won't tell you the expression I used but it caused my teenage children to raise their eyebrows and one of them to snort their tea.

As if women don't have enough pressure about their appearance. As if we aren't hit over the head already with so many bodily inadequacies. Cellulite. Muffin tops. Bingo wings. Neck beards. Now it's our vaginas that need improving! Rejuvenation! Why can't they just be their actual age? It is my own personal view on intimacy, that if someone is lucky enough to get anywhere near your vagina, they should realise that that's a privilege you have bestowed upon them and they should be grateful for whatever they find. But that seems to be an increasingly minority view.

So many young girls are now looking for cosmetic surgery to enhance the appearance of their genitals - (most of them already plucked, preened and vajazzled into tip-top shape) that in the US, there was an 80pc rise in girls below the age of 18 having cosmetic procedures performed on their vulva in 2015. And studies from the UK show that there has been a 500pc rise in cosmetic genital surgery in the past decade. The problem is growing to such an extent the extent that now the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, ACOG, has had to issue guidelines urging caution, and suggesting that reassurance of the wide variety of what is normal for female anatomy is necessary.

Cosmetic genital surgery for adult women is marketed as vaginal rejuvenation.

The ACOG in 2014 stated that the vaginal-tightening or rejuvenation procedures were not medically indicated, had not been proved safe or effective and could cause serious complications.

So why do it?

Are we that vulnerable to marketing, that insecure about ourselves that we will take a knife to our innards, with no actual proven benefits and possibly mess up our vaginas, our sex lives and our urinary tract in a misguided attempt to 'make' ourselves more attractive?

And it has got to raise the question about advertising here. Doctors and surgeons aren't allowed advertise for procedures that you might actually need - like a hernia repair or a haemorroidectomy - so why are they allowed to advertise for stuff that you don't need, that is possibly dangerous and that makes you feel that aging is unacceptable and your body is unattractive?

It makes no rational sense that medics can't advertise what you might actually need but can advertise spurious nonsense to you. I hope you are reading this, Medical Council.

Either way, listening to ads for vaginal rejuvenation on a Sunday afternoon, as a woman, has to be one of the most depressing things imaginable.

You are left with the feeling - 'Is there really no bit of us that is just good enough? No bit that doesn't need improvement? No bit that we do not need to overhaul?' Well, I'm sorry but I'm not buying it. Age-appropriate vaginas for all.

@ciarakellydoc

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