You're Looking Good Down There
I have a friend who recently decided to stop dying her hair. "I'm tired of trying to 'do young.' I just want to 'do me.'" When it comes to the way we look, it seems like there's a fine line between being your best self and just being yourself.
To dye or not to dye used to be the only decision midlife women had to make, but now, if you have the interest, time, and money, you can lift and reshape any part of your body, from your derriere to your ears. That includes your lady parts.
In labiaplasty, the surgeon trims the inner lips surrounding the vagina (the labia minora) to make the entire area look smooth or removes the lips entirely (by the way, this will happen naturally with menopause, during which the labia tend to 'melt away'). The surgeon can also tighten the vaginal opening, tweak the outer labia and reduce or remove the clitoral hood.
Since there's no proof that these procedures enhance sensation, I assume that women do it because they think that area doesn't look the way it should. Perhaps at some point they got the message that the way they are built is somehow inferior or not normal.
As a practitioner, I have seen many, many women's private parts, and I can tell you that normal encompasses a very wide range. Furthermore, in surgery there's always a risk of infection or nerve damage, which could reduce sensitivity.
You're the only person who can decide what's right for you, but I do hope you weigh the risk of actually having less sensation during sexual activity with the "benefit" of a cosmetic change. Don't be swayed by anyone's ideas of what's normal or perfect when it comes to genitalia.
If you have real concerns about how your vagina or clitoris are functioning (or not), rather than the way they look, talk to your medical professional. They can identify the problem and offer solutions. Read more about Sexual Dysfunction.
Barb DePree, MD, has been a gynecologist for over 30 years, specializing in menopause care for the past 10. Dr. DePree was named the Certified Menopause Practitioner of the Year in 2013 by the North American Menopause Society. The award particularly recognized the outreach, communication and education she does through MiddlesexMD, a website she founded and where this blog first appeared. She also is director of the Women's Midlife Services at Holland Hospital, Holland, Michigan.