Genital Self-Image and Body Image Concerns

Genital Self-Image and Body Image Concerns

Over the last 10 to 15 years, we have seen a rapid increase in the number of adolescent and adult women requesting cosmetic genital surgery. Professional medical organisations throughout the Western world have expressed serious concerns about this trend. As the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists state, cosmetic genital surgery is not medically indicated, and long term safety and effectiveness data are lacking. Potential complications include infection, altered sensation, dyspareunia, adhesions, and scarring.

Research has shown the primary motivation for these surgeries is aesthetic concern. Our research has focused on investigating the psychological and sociocultural factors underpinning this increase in genital appearance dissatisfaction in women. We firstly examined these factors in adult women, but have subsequently shifted our attention to adolescent girls as this is usually the period when girls first start to develop these concerns. We are also in the process of pilot testing a therapeutic mobile app, based on cognitive behavioural therapy principles, which aims to alleviate women’s genital appearance concerns. We hope that this app will provide an alternative to unproven cosmetic genital surgery and potentially be disseminated nationally and internationally. 


For more information, please contact Dr Gemma Sharp via email at or by phone on (03) 9076 5167

 MAPrc Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, Level 4, 607 St Kilda Road, Melbourne 3004

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