Ask an expert

11 Jun 2003

Just read various questions regarding genital surgery but don't know how to reply to them.

I had NHS labia reduction surgery last year which has caused loads of problems.

Since puberty I'd always been immensly embarrassed by my enormous inner labia which hung several inches outside my body. Gross, huh! Apart from the obvious embarrassment factor, they caused numerous problems from difficulty to have sex, riding a bike and simply fitting in knickers. They were forever sore and inflamed and, when I regularly got thrush, they hung like two massive balloons outside my body making it painful to walk!

Therefore at 29 I finally plucked up the courage to see my GP who referred me to a gynae at my local hospital. I had my inner labia 'trimmed' under general anaesthetic, and felt so grateful that at last I could 'be normal'. However nothing could prepare me for the complications this minor surgery has created. The pain afterwards was unbelievably indescribably excruciating! - not just for days, but for months afterwards. (I've had operations in the past, but this pain was unreal). For weeks I was stuck in bed taking painkillers, with dressings & icepacks between my legs. When I could eventually make it out of bed, for months I walked like John Wayne! (Hardly my vision of quietly going into hospital for a couple of days without anyone needing to know about my problem.)

Unfortunately the surgery removed one problem to create a whole heap of other longterm problems instead. Too much tissue was removed, including the external parts of my clitoris. So sex may have been tricky before the operation, but now I'm left with no sensation at all. Scar tissue built up around my urethra and so, one year on I still have problems having a wee. Visually I was always embarrased by the way my genitals looked but now I looked like I've been mutilated.

I have now been offered reconstructive surgery to try to reduce the problems created by the original surgery - but even if I go through all the pain again, I'll never get sensation or my clitoris (ie sexual pleasure) back.

Anyway, I guess what I want to say to girls out there who feel embarrassed and think you have a really don't. Unless your labia are causing REALLY horrendous physical problems (eg walking!) please don't even think about investigating surgery. You might think that having a bit cut off here & there will be the answer, but do you really want to risk having mutilated, sore genitals and a whole host of other problems for the rest of your life?! Yeah, long labia can look a bit wierd, but it's only because nobody talks about having long 'bits' too, that you end up feeling you're a freak. You're not! - women really do have different sized labia like we have different sized breasts. In the end it's only us women who have the problem, in thinking that (as always) small is beautiful - guys honestly couldn't care less. Certainly, most guys do care what you look like - but not what you look like 'down there'!

Sorry, for the long waffle...but hope it helps someone.
Answer 1,035 views

01 Jan 0001

Thanks for your input. Hope things improve with time.

Best wishes
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.
Voting Booth
Should the red carpet portion of SONA be scrapped this year?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, it's inappropriate given the state of the country
94% - 1559 votes
No, it's part of the tradition
6% - 108 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.