In 1996 Eve Ensler’s play “Vulvar Monologues” premiered in a small theater in New York, receiving massive and triumphant acceptance all over the world. Its success is related to the fact that it managed to establish female sexuality as an acceptable topic in everyday, mainstream discourse. The vulva does not just symbolize female sexuality, it is directly connected to its realization, to its experience, both anatomically and psychologically. And yet, for millennia it was the “silent” witness of sexuality. From philosophy, religion to psychoanalysis and the arts, the discussion around the vulva has for millennia been locked in a dichotomy: grim and dirty on the one hand, divine and chaste on the other. In the first case we have the criminalization of sexual desire. In the second, the body is sanctified and thus opens the door to metaphysics. But the vulva has nothing metaphysical, it is part of every woman’s history.
And this story must finally be told – and here comes a rather unexpected ally: plastic surgery. “Like all parts of the body, the female genital area should be treated as a part of the body that should be talked about innocently,” notes Dr. Eleftherios Dimitradiou, plastic and reconstructive surgeon and scientific director of Luxurious clinics Medical Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery.
Vaginal reconstruction may not be a new practice, but the lack of reliable information on the one hand and the various stereotypes on the other acted as a deterrent for women to seek further information. Their silence was yet another symptom of our world’s warped view of female sexuality. Now that is changing. Women are consulting experts and more and more are talking openly with them. “Such an operation restores not only aesthetic problems, but also functional deformities and abnormalities of the external genitalia. It is a painless operation, which does not create pain or discomfort post-operatively. Of course, there is an adjustment period after the surgery, which ranges from two to three weeks in each case,” notes Dr. Dimitradiou. It is important to emphasize that these operations involve the external genitalia. For the plastic restoration of the internal genital organs, the cooperation of the plastic surgeon and the gynecologist is required.
But why is such an operation important? As the plastic surgeon explains to us, “a deformity in the external genitalia may create psychological stress for the woman, making her life and sexual health more difficult. For example, external genitalia either larger than normal, which have come from an injury, or malformed genitalia can have an increased microbial load in the area, resulting in urinary tract infections or even injury to the organs themselves.”
The vulva reconstruction naturally also concerns the clitoris area, a point that is inextricably linked to the orgasm and sexual pleasure of the woman, but by extension the man as well. Revealing the anatomical structure through reconstructive surgery can be the key to radically improving a woman’s love life and experience.
“Overall, aesthetic procedures in the vulva area offer a better mood and possibly facilitate penetration, given that the deformities of the area may disturb or create obstacles during the penetration phase,” emphasizes Dr. Dimitradiou and adds that the erotic or love partner “enjoys a much better result aesthetically”.
We usually look for those arguments in books or in movies that contribute to empowering women’s sexual experience. Here, however, the methods of plastic surgery do not simply restore a functional or aesthetic problem. They indirectly empower women socially and romantically. The hitherto silent history of the vulva gains a voice on the operating table. And this is no mean feat.