The rise of the designer vagina: New charity film explores labia surgery as more British women opt to undergo the operation
UK hospitals have seen a five-fold increase in labiaplastySome patients as young as 11 years old
16:22 GMT, 25 July 2012
Surgery: British hospitals have reported a five-fold increase in labiaplasty in recent years
The debate surrounding labiaplasty has always been a contentious one.
Is surgery to give you a 'designer vagina' a tool for female empowerment or an extreme example of women becoming the victims of an increasingly X-rated world
With UK hospitals reporting a five-fold increase in patients opting to undergo labia surgery – and some girls as young as 11 expressing interest – a research charity has released an animated film to explain the subject.
In the Wellcome Trust's Centrefold Project, documentary filmmaker Ellie Land focuses on three women who have undergone the surgery.
woman had a different reason for opting to have the procedure – which
involves 'neatening-up' the genital area through cutting and stitching –
and each explains how she felt with the results.
The first interviewee talks about how
she used to feel like a 'freak' because of her long labia, and that she
repeatedly dreamed they were a 'long, long scarf' wrapped tightly
around her neck that everyone was staring and laughing at.
second divulges that her own large labia were not only unlike those of
other women, but that they affected her sex life because of 'mobility
issues' and that 'they would get in the way'.
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Designer Vagina: Ellie Land's Centrefold documentary explains through animated film why some women would choose to undergo labiaplasty
The third woman says she worried her labia were 'long, dark, disgusting, shrivelled-up', and that she was quite embarrassed about it not being 'normal'.
The women talk about spending hours flicking through porn magazines trying to find women with similar labia, but never managing.
woman confesses that although her motivation for the surgery was
'aesthetic', not a day went by when she didn't think about her vagina
'in a bad way', and that she didn't look 'the way women were meant to
Another says: 'The labia would rub and cause me a lot of pain – sometimes I even had little blisters.'
Land also interviews the women after the procedures, and each explains how the surgery has affected their lives both positively and negatively.
Labia surgery costs over 3,000 if done privately, but 2,000 labiaplasties were carried out by the NHS last year, a fivefold increase on the last five years.
Am I normal A still from Ellie Land's animated documentary which explores labiaplasty
To be eligible for the surgery on the NHS, a woman must have physical reasons which include pain during intercourse, discomfort due to rubbing clothes, rare hormonal disorders causing the labia minora to enlarge and damage done after giving birth.
It is also possible to get a labiaplasty on the NHS in the absence of physical medical problems.
If the size or shape of your labia are causing you real psychological damage – such as depression or self-esteem problems – women can be assessed by a GP to determine the need for labiaplasty and then referred to a gynaecologist.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, consultant gynaecologist Dr Sarah Creighton said she sees patients as young as 11, and is surprised by what she believes is a new phenomenon.
To learn more about labiaplasty visit the Centrefold Project.
Centrefold – The Trailer from Ellie Land on Vimeo.