Guidance for girls to prevent requests for 'designer vaginas'

Girls are being given a tool to educate them about female anatomy in a bid to stem the rising tide of requests for so-called designer vaginas.

Experts said the booklet has been designed in response to an increasing number of girls and women with cosmetic genital concerns requesting surgery despite having normal anatomy.

Dr Naomi Crouch, who chairs the British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology (BritsPAG), has said in her work for the NHS she was yet to see a girl who needed the operation.

The new guide So What Is A Vulva Anyway? has been launched at the Annual Update in Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology, a joint event by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and BritsPAG.

The booklet, commissioned by BritsPAG, uses illustrations to describe variation in appearance in order to normalise vulva appearance.

Dr Crouch, a consultant gynaecologist, said: "There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the practice of labiaplasty and the risk of harm is significant, particularly for teenagers who are still in stages of development both physically and psychologically.

"We hope this resource will provide information for girls and young women that their vulva is unique and will change throughout their life, and that this is entirely normal and healthy."

Louise Williams, clinical nurse specialist at University College Hospital and co-lead of the project, added: "We see many patients in our paediatric and adolescent gynaecology clinic who have a poor understanding of the function of parts of the anatomy and also of normal genital variation.

"This educational resource will help young people to understand their vulva and how it develops during puberty, particularly if they are worried about how they look or feel.

"We hope it will reassure young people that vulvas come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and if they need advice and support, they can know where to go."

- The booklet will be available on the website of the young people's sexual health charity Brook as well as being available to download on the BritsPAG web page.

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