- Consultant Dr Ahmed Ismail founded The London Gynaecology Clinic
- Says women are becoming increasingly self-analytical of their own bodies
- Many question their normality after comparing their vaginas to others
- Led to rise in people undergoing labiaplasty or 'designer vagina' surgery
March 30, 2016 09:41 PM IST. By ANNA MAGEE FOR HEALTHISTA.
A desire to look good while doing yoga or wearing skinny jeans has sparked a huge rise in the number of women opting to have 'designer vagina' surgery, according to plastic surgeons.
From girls as young as 16, to women in their 70s, more women than ever are choosing to undergo cosmetic surgery to alter the appearance of their genitals.
Surgery can be performed on the labia majora - the outer, larger vaginal lips - or the labia minora - the smaller, internal vaginal lips and can change the size or shape of a woman's labia.
But do you really need it?
Here, speaking to Healthista, leading gynaecologist Dr Ahmed Ismail explains all vaginas are different and - unless it is causing you pain or discomfort - it’s perfect as it is.
Woman are becoming increasingly self-analytical about their bodies and unnecessarily compare themselves to others, says gynaecology and obstetrics consultant Dr Ahmed Ismail
With so much emphasis in the media on perfecting one’s body, celebrities’ bodies and so on, women are becoming increasingly self-analytical of their own bodies.
Many question their ‘normality’ and comparing themselves unnecessarily to others when in fact their bodies are perfectly normal and healthy.
One question that women regularly ask me is ‘Is my vagina normal?’
THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT-LOOKING VAGINA
It is important to clarify that every woman’s vagina is different.
There is no such thing as one size, shape or colour fits all; and there is no ideal.
The vulva and vagina are parts of the human body which, in a similar way to human’s other body parts including their nose, thighs, buttocks, breasts and so on, will present a variation amongst individuals.
Every woman's vagina is different and there's no such thing as an 'ideal vagina,' Dr Ismail says
The size of the vulva, its shape, length, colour, size and thickness are all variable among women.
Some are pink, some pale white, some dark brown. Sometimes they are fatter, sometimes they are thin.
Sometimes, the length of the vulva extends to the upper part of the inner thigh, and other times it will extend much lower.
All are normal.
The forehead of the clitoris can also vary. For some women, it is wrinkled and long, for others it is smooth and short.
The colour and shape of the labia can also differ.
For some women, the edges appear similar in colour to the rest of the labia, whereas, in other women their lips (in both the labia majora or outer lips and the labia minora or inner lips) can show some darker discolouration, highlighting the edge of the labia.
Similarly, sometimes the length of the labia minora is longer than the labia majora and vice-versa.
UNLESS YOU'RE IN PAIN, YOU PROBABLY DON'T NEED A LABIAPLASTY
Women in fact pay particular attention to their labia, and I am often asked ‘what is the ‘normal length’?
The simple answer is that there is no right or wrong length.
It is personal preference as what may appear to be beautiful to one person may not be aesthetically pleasing to another.
It is also relative to cultural variations.
As long as the area is clean, healthy and comfortable for the woman, it is perfectly normal.
That said there is a pathological (medically problematic) length in which a woman’s labia may be so long that it interferes with her clothing (for example, when wearing tight swimming costumes or cycling shorts) or causes her to experience discomfort or pain during sex from pulling.
In these cases, we can perform a labia reduction.
At The London Gynaecology Clinic, we have an extremely high success rate in this area; however it is important to mention that, if you are considering a labia reduction, it needs to be performed with the maximum care and by an experienced gynaecologist for good end results.
YOUR VAGINA WILL CHANGE WITH AGE
Throughout your life, your body will experience different physiological and hormonal changes, such as pregnancy, birth and menopause and naturally the vagina and vulva will change.
This is natural but it can be improved by certain gynaecological cosmetic interventions if it’s upsetting you.
As with over-examination of any part of your body, the labia will change over time due to loss of elasticity and collagen.
My advice is this: unless you notice an abnormality, don’t be over-analytical towards your vagina.
Always look at it from a glance, rather than at close range and feel confident about yourself.
DON'T COMPARE YOURS WITH OTHER WOMEN'S
Over the years of my experience of examining patients of all nationalities worldwide all vaginas are different.
However, there are some very clear ethnic shape-related vulva and vaginal variations.
Therefore, if a woman from China for example tries to compare her vulva with that of an Eastern European woman, she will definitely see a big difference between herself and others.
All vaginas are different and can vary with ethnicity with some 'very clear shape-related vulva and vaginal variations,' according to Dr Ismail
With this in mind, ethnic variations mean that the word ‘pretty’ is relative will not apply to vaginas in the same way for all ethnic groups.
Eastern European people may think that Chinese women’s vaginas are too tight and small; whereas Chinese people may think that Russian women’s vaginas and vulvas are too big.
Therefore, it is unfair for women to compare their vagina to other women of different age groups, ethnicities, or even to their own vagina at an earlier stage of life.
It will not be the same but that does not mean that it isn’t perfectly healthy, normal and aesthetically pleasing.
IF IT'S CLEAN AND HEALTHY, IT'S PERFECT
Overall, having specialized in the field of gynaecology and obstetrics for over 25 years, treating patients from every part of the planet and all ethnicities, I can categorically say that vaginas are all different, with some specific general shape of certain ethnic groups.
There is no right or wrong shape, size or colour; except if we examine and detect abnormality or the woman herself finds that she is not pleased with what she has.
If this is the case, it is possible for an experienced gynaecologist to advise on changes.
I have seen many women patients who have requested a labia reduction or increased clitoris exposure to remove the skin covering it and, most of the time, the examination was very clear: her vagina is absolutely normal and there is no reason for her to be concerned.
Some women still insist on a labia reduction even if it appears to be normal.
If it makes her feel more comfortable and confident within herself, we will perform them on patients’ requests.
However, it is important to note that this is due to the woman’s own personal vaginal preferences, in a similar way to if she requested a rhinoplasty (nose job) or breast reduction.
As long as your vagina is clean and healthy, feel confident about yourself and your vagina - it is perfect.
(This article was first published on Dailymail.co.uk. Author: Anna Magee. )