A new study has been released, sharing startling statistics of girls as young as 15 undergoing labiaplasties and genital cosmetic procedures. One third of the labia surgery requests come from girls under 18.
Female genitalia do not reach maturity until the age of 18 so the results from the study are quite eye-opening.
The lead author of the study, Dr Magdalena Simonis, of the University of Melbourne’s Department of General Practice said at least half the requests for genital cosmetic surgery comes from girls who are suffering from depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties or body dysmorphic disorder.
The most common concern girls have that prompt them for genital cosmetic surgery is the size of their labia.
Dr Simonis explains, “There’s an epidemic of anxiety about normality.
“Ninety-seven per cent of the GPs who took part on our study had been asked by patients if they were normal, yet GPs, until recently, have had very little information about the risks of surgery, and few resources to educate women about what’s normal.
“In 2013, more than 1500 labiaplasties were performed in Australia, with a three-fold increase in the procedure over the previous 10 years, despite there being no increase in genital abnormalities.
“The fact that surgery rates for 15-24 year olds are the same for 25-45 year olds is especially worrying, because female genitalia don’t reach maturity until around age 18.”
GPs are now requesting more information and training so they are equipped to challenge women requesting genital cosmetic surgery for vanity reasons.
The study found fashion, online pornography, perceptions of beauty, as well as brazilian waxes playing a major role in how women judged their genitals.
Dr Simonis believes social media can also be blamed.
“The industry is brilliant at using social media to convince women and girls that they have ‘redundant’ or ‘excess’ tissue, when in fact we know that the labia are rich with nerve fibres,” Dr Simonis said.
“Surgery to ‘trim’ labia can affect sexual response, because the clitoris is not just a ‘pea’ as described in textbooks, but is a larger organ, most of it not visible to the eye.”
Genital cosmetic surgery is also popular in the UK, but the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the British Society of Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecologists request that surgery be avoided under the age of 18.
In Australia, as of 1 October 2016, the Medical Board of Australia advises that girls under 18, receive mandatory counselling and a three-month cooling-off period before having the procedure.
Awareness needs to be made to all females on the consequences of genital cosmetic procedures. The rise in requests for procedures prove it’s an area that girls need to be educated on.