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Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery: A new phenomenon and dilemma for health professionals

Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery: A new phenomenon and dilemma for health professionals

Objective: Empirical evidence on women’s genital image perceptions in the general population and their opinions towards FGCS is lacking. The main objective is to determine the prevailing views of Australian women about their attitudes towards their genital image and their views about FGCS. How women feel towards their genitalia is a neglected psycho-sexual health issue and it is envisaged this study will shed light on the issues women may face.

Method: This internet based survey elicited responses of 771 women aged 18 years and above. Participants completed a series of questionnaires: Female Genital Image Scale (Morrison, Ellis, Bearden, & Harrimann, 2004). Using Sarwer’s (2005) Cosmetic Surgery Attitudes Questionnaire as a template, we developed the Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery Attitudes Questionnaire. In the absence of available measures the Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery Procedures Questionnaire was designed.

Results: • More than half of women (52%) were satisfied with the overall appearance of their genitalia. • 38% of women were not satisfied with at least one aspect of their genitalia. • 16% of women were dissatisfied with overall appearance of their genitalia. • Of note – 20% of women were dissatisfied with the appearance of their labia minora. • 10% of women who were dissatisfied with their genital appearance would consider having a FGCS procedure in the future. • Poor genital image correlated negatively with women wanting to have some type of FGCS in the future.

Discussion: An important finding is that acceptance of FGCS is negatively related to genital image dissatisfaction. This indicates that women who have poor genital image may be more accepting to undergo some type of FGCS procedure. Findings suggest that women and girls are increasingly anxious about the appearance and function of their genitals. Genital image dissatisfaction could explain why there has been an increase in these surgeries. An important implication of the study is that women with poor genital image can potentially have unnecessary and harmful surgery. Solutions other than surgery need to be considered.

Areas of Interest / Categories: Society of Australian Sexology 2014

Society of Australian Sexology 2014

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