Sexuality and genital self-image


The female genital area is still a taboo subject in our society. Despite this, a social image of what an ideal, beautiful vulva should look like has become established. And this has an impact on our self-image and on our sexuality. In 2015, a sex toy manufacturer launched a contest for the most beautiful female genital in the world. The goal of the contest was to find a template for sex toys. More than 130,000 people from all over the world then voted for the vulvas available for selection. The voting was an involuntary mirror of the idea of beauty for female genitals in our time. The most voted genitals were all hairless, had hardly any pronounced inner labia and hardly differed in color from the rest of the body. Women’s magazines and the erotic and porn industries are also oriented towards this ideal. The lack of realistic examples gives many women the impression that the appearance of their genitals is abnormal. This is especially the case when the inner labia, also called labia minora, are too long or too thick to be enclosed by the outer labia.

Young women are surrounded by beauty ideals at an increasingly early age

This includes the female genitalia. For adolescent young women who do not see the appearance of their genitals represented and therefore perceive it as repulsive, this often has far-reaching psychological consequences. For example, these young women often do not dare to show themselves to their boyfriends or to have sexual experiences because of shame. As a result, the affected women are less self-determined in their bodies and sexuality.

However, shame also affects other areas of life. For example, some young women do not dare to go to the swimming pool for fear that their labia might show through the fabric. Among older generations, the female genital is even more prominent as a taboo subject. Due to social taboos, many women are less educated about their genitals and tend to perceive them as unclean or dirty. They are also more likely to be dissatisfied with their vulva because of their learned negative perception of it. According to one study, more than 60% of women of all ages have concerns about the appearance of their genitals.

The consequences of disturbed self-perception

Dissatisfaction with their genitals has far-reaching consequences for the women affected. Women with a good feeling to their genitals are more self-determined and open in their sexuality, have more and better orgasms, are more aroused and generally more sexually satisfied. Sexual satisfaction in turn has a positive effect on one’s own health and well-being, as well as on the quality of life in general.

Relationships also benefit when a woman has a positive relationship with her body. Women who are satisfied with their bodies or individual body parts very dissatisfied are, on the other hand, experience less sexual stimulation, have a reduced sexual desire and tend to be more likely to have sexual dysfunction.

Studies have also shown that women are not only more negative about their genitals than men, but also use significantly more negative language regarding their genitals.

In addition, long labia can cause physical discomfort when walking or cycling if they rub together painfully.

Indications for reduction of labia minora

If dissatisfaction with the appearance of the genitals has a lasting negative impact on the quality of life, it makes sense to look into the possibility of cosmetic surgery. However, all aspects that speak in favor of treatment should be carefully scrutinized beforehand.

In the Plastic surgery Dr. Bernard labia reductions are performed regularly, with a natural result. During the treatment, the protruding labia are not only shortened, but tissue is also removed from the center. As a result, no scars remain and the feeling in the intimate area remains largely unaffected. Dr. Bernard advises affected women confidentially, from woman to woman, with the utmost discretion. It is important to the team, and especially to the specialist, that their patients trust them and feel no shame in their practice despite the sensitive nature of the subject. This procedure has already restored self-confidence and quality of life to many patients.