It’s venting time: One of the things that perturbs me is the repeated attempt by critics of vaginoplasty to lump it in with genital mutilation that goes on in a lot of a third-world countries. It’s nothing new that there are critics to this reconstructive procedure. After all, many people are squeamish about talking about female genitalia-much less, discussing the idea of modifying them for the woman’s comfort. So when they get the opportunity to try to tie it in with something primitive like genital mutilation, why not?
Because they’re completely different, that’s why. Genital mutilation occurs mostly in some African and other unadvanced cultures. It is the total or partial removal of the female’s external genitalia for non-medical reasons and mainly as a ritual. Usually this has been done for cultural and sometimes religious reasons. There are three main forms of female genital mutilation:
1) Clitoridectomy, which is the removal of the entire woman’s clitoris as well as the adjacent labia. 2) Sunna Circumsion, the removal of the prepuce and / or the tip of the woman’s clitoris. 3) Infibulation, the removal of part or all of the woman’s labia minora and labia majora. Afterward, this is stitched together, allowing a hole to stay open for urine and the flow of menstrual blood.
Here are some key differences you need to understand between this barbaric procedure and modern forms of vaginoplasty and labiaplasty:
• First, the age on the females who receive this procedure in these third-world countries usually ranges from just after birth all the way to her first pregnancy-but with the majority taking place between age four and eight. • Genital mutilation is almost always done by lay people, with no medical staff and no medical facilities. • Anesthesia is almost never used. Instead, older woman old the young girl down so she will not write in pain. • Objects used for genital mutilation might include razor blades, broken glass, knives, a tin lid, or scissors.
Clearly this is a far cry from what happens in modern vaginoplasty and labiaplasty. We use only proven tools that are sanitized, in a proper medical facility. Only accredited surgeons perform the procedure, and the patient is anesthetized. Most importantly, no credible plastic surgeon would ever force any procedure on female genitalia on a young girl, too young to decide on the procedure for herself.
So the next time you hear someone trying to equate modern vaginoplasty with a barbaric practice like genital mutilation, do me a favor and set them straight.