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embarrassed about my genitalia, so sad and don't know where to turn.

(11 Posts)
ashamedneedshelp Wed 22-Jun-11 09:42:11

I am a regular poster but namechanged for this as I am hugely embarrassed.

I recently had my first DC and things are going great. However, during my antenatal and postnatal care, no less than 3 midwives have commented on the size of my labia, one even wrote in my hospital notes "outer labia oversized and distended" blush and another asked me if I'd had surgery "down there".

They have always been large and it has caused a lot of problems in some relationships, my embarrassment has prevented me being intimate with partners in the past and it took a long time to let DH in on my secret. He loves me regardless but I don't enjoy oral sex because I am so self-concious.

They also sometimes get caught up in my clothing (knickers) and can be very painful blush I've never sought help as I assumed it was something I just had to put up with, but now the midwives have mentioned it I feel even more abnormal.

Is it possible to get labiaplasty (sp?) On the NHS? If so where on earth do I start asking for help? My GP surgery recently lost 2 of my regular GP's and I do not feel comfortable enough with any of the others.

I'm so down about this, I feel like a freak.

schobe Wed 22-Jun-11 09:49:12

Yes you can get it on the NHS. Get thee to a GP - can you change practices and try to find one you feel comfortable talking to?

Or you could write down the issue and all the distress it's clearly causing you and give it to a current GP.

If you explain the psychological impact it's having on you, I'm sure you'd be a candidate for the procedure.

Try to be as assertive as you can and be very clear about the seriousness of the problem for you. Writing down all the ways it distresses you might be a good idea to avoid that backing down thing we all tend to do at the doctors when we get embarrassed. Good luck.

KilledBill Wed 22-Jun-11 09:49:26

Oh ashamed, dont get too upset about this please. The midwives making comments are outrageous, they should not be commenting on your genitals unless its something medical that they intend to send you for treatment on.

Unfortunatly, women feeling that their bits dont match up or are not normal has become a bit of a phenomena recently - yet more pressure on women and possibly the influence of porn. But if they really bother you then maybe you need to talk to a GP.

I can tell you that unfortunatly, becaue labiaplasty has become a "fashion" surgery in recent years, you may have a tough time with convincing them. BUT it is true that if you already had larger labia, childbirth can increase that size or you can get tears. I take it you have already researched this? The things you mention are some of the criteria e.g rubbing clothes and pain.

If you cant get it on the NHS I believe labiaplasty is around 3000 private. Its a day case procedure, not too high risk compared to some surgery but there is a risk you could lose sensation, or they could take too much resulting in you having little or no labia, or uneven labia. Have you got a female GP?

ashamedneedshelp Wed 22-Jun-11 10:30:58

I have tried googling it but a lot of the results were related to things like ch4's Embarrassing Bodies programme and the rise in people getting this surgery - which makes me think a GP may not take me seriously. I'm not generally a vain person and have always thought I just need to deal with my body "warts and all" but the fact that 3 people who must see genitals and labia of all different shapes and sizes felt it was comment worthy has really brought home the possibility that I'm not normal. Fwiw they weren't cruel at all but all 3 clearly thought it unusual.

I don't think there's any chance of changing GPs surgery as the ones in our town are already over-subscibed. We have 1 female GP at our surgery but she is new and I've had no dealings with her as yet so I don't know how empathetic she would be. I do feel comfortable with the nurses there, could I start by talking to them?

I certainly don't have £3000 sad so private surgery is out of the window. I am very lucky to have a supportive DH and he says it doesn't make a bit of difference to him what I look like down there.

Thanks for your advice its very kind of you.

NightLark Wed 22-Jun-11 10:37:07

From an NHS point of view, the argument for psychological distress isn't something they generally take into account. Focus on physical problems - pain, catching, tearing etc. Your GP is likely to be sympathetic to your distress, but the people who make funding decisions often work on the basis that psychological problems need psychological therapies, not surgery.

You are not making an unreasonable request AT ALL, but as it is a plastics procedure it will be something that needs special permission from your local PCT (or whatever is taking over...). Best of luck with it.

Cazzyla Wed 22-Jun-11 18:26:48

I don't really have any advice to give but just wanted Ashamed to know that you are not alone, and hope that this helps you not to feel so different. My labia are really enlarged and I am incredibly self conscious and won't let my DH go near me orally because I can't relax or imagine that it would be pleasurable for him. They get in the way for sex or examinations and I cringe when this happens. They are so visible externally that my eldest DC has asked what it is (she is 4). I don't know what to do to try and get over my attitude. My DH doesn't care about what I am like down there and loves me as I am but this doesn't change how I feel inside. But I am too scared to have surgery. I wouldn't mind living with it but I know that it affects my sex life, which is already affected by having two young children. I think I need therapy!

rachdave Wed 22-Jun-11 19:13:11

i too have enlarged labia, thought it abnormal as teen until i read agony aunt page of someone else and they said that about 2in 10 woman are like this. that was 25yrs ago! always felt fine about it after that, wel to a certain extent. this is the second time i've told anyone. the first being my hubby. he's very gentle with me and so we can enjoy intimacy. i'v had three kids, and my midwife said it looked fine some woman are like that. learn to love yourself, your NOT abnormal smile

suburbophobe Wed 22-Jun-11 19:19:45

Oh ashamed, dont get too upset about this please. The midwives making comments are outrageous, they should not be commenting on your genitals unless its something medical that they intend to send you for treatment on.

I agree with this, we are all unique as people...don't let them make you feel like a freak......

ashamedneedshelp Wed 22-Jun-11 22:17:56

Thank you for sharing - 2 in 10 rachdave, really??I do feel better for writing it down here, it kind of helps to admit it IYSWIM, knowing that others have this "problem" too makes a big difference.

Obviously right now my hormones are a bit haywire - once things have settled a bit I'm thinking of making an appointment with my practice nurse (who I've always found to be very professional and approachable) and asking her for her genuine opinion on whether there is anything out of the ordinary.

Cazzyla I have the same problem with them getting in the way during intimate moments and I'm very self concious when swimming etc as there is a very visible bulge blush I find that "tucking" them inside me helps (sorry if TMI.)

cornishpasty Wed 22-Jun-11 22:54:27

Another one here with large labia that look very untidy.
As a teenager I was very upset and embarrassed about how I looked - nothing like those neat and tidy vaginas I had seen in porn mags.
I don't know how I got over this being a problem but neither of the two people I have had sex with have ever mentioned there being a problem. I guess I just realised eventually that we're all different.
I'm not bothered about it too much now, but its not something I would discuss with friends or family.
I too have had one of my children ask what the bits sticking out are, but I just said that it's just skin. I'm hoping that having seen me my dd will have no issues if she is the same when older and my ds will have no unreal expectations of vaginas - which I'm afraid today's easy access to porn gives young people such high expectations of 'perfect' bodies.
I am lucky that mine cause me no pain or discomfort and I don't have any problems with intercourse.
I hope op that you get the help you want if that's right for you. But you're not alone.

TimeWasting Wed 22-Jun-11 23:01:10

The whole external genitals can swell up a lot when pregnant, there's a lot of extra blood pumping to the area, general body-swelling too.
It may well be that your labia looked much bigger than usual when the midwives saw them.

If you take away the psychological aspects, the embarrassment etc. how much trouble does this really cause you? Surgery is serious. What if they fucked it up? Is it worth that risk?

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