“I was eight when I first told my mum it was irritating. I didn’t know it was an enlarged labia back then, all I knew was that it was large and it would rub a lot, and it was kind of hard to go running. It was very uncomfortable for a very, very long time.
My labia would actually protrude. I would stand up and it would pop out and I would want to tuck it back up, but you can’t because obviously it doesn’t look very good in public. And when it popped out, it rubbed on my underpants, which was awful and so unpleasant. I would complain to mum about it, but she’d say, ‘You’ll grow out of it, it will shrink in time.’ But it didn’t.
It lowered my self confidence. When I was naked it dangled and it was gross. My partner would joke and say, ‘I can see it,’ and I would be like, ‘Shut up!’. Luckily, he wasn’t bothered by it at all, but I always made sure there was a lot of ‘mood lighting’ in the bedroom. Six weeks before the surgery my boyfriend was saying, ‘Don’t get it done!’ purely because he thought I’d be ‘out of action’ for ages. Boys, eh?
There are only a small percentage of women with this condition, so it was always a bit difficult to talk about, especially when I was a teenager. It’s different now that I’m older; now I don’t really care, .
I first found out about the plastic surgery procedure, Labiaplasty, when I was watching Good Medicine when I was about 20. Until then I had no idea you could do anything about it.
It took me so long to act because it was hard for me to get the time off work. Also, I didn’t know of any doctors who did the operation. I rang quite a few plastic surgeons and they’d say, ‘No, you have to ring this type of surgeon,’ and so it would go in circles. Finally I was put onto someone who had experience in my area, Dr Mark Kohout, who could do my operation.
It also took a long time for me to suss out people’s opinions – like my mother for example. She was against it, but I was at a point in my life where I was old enough to say, ‘Well guess what? I don’t care’. Mum thought the vagina was a taboo area. She even wanted to know if it was a female doctor! In the end I thought, ‘Get over it – I’ll do what I want to do’. I was so excited.
I told my dearest friends I was, ‘Getting myself nice and pretty down there’, and we all joked about it. I even got together some friends for a few drinks as a joke farewell party for it!
The Big Day
Dr Kohout prepared me for the possibility of a lot of pain – but it actually wasn’t that bad at all. They basically just cut and re-stitched my labia so that it was a regular, neat size. The whole area went black and it was very swollen, but the only thing that actually hurt was the first time I had to pee. It stung so bad! I got off the pain killers after only a day, which really surprised the doctor.
One thing that was really annoying though was how itchy the stitches were. I couldn’t get to sleep because all I could think about was scratching! After two weeks though, it was all fine. And to my partners’ delight, I was ‘out of action’ for only three weeks, even though he told me it could be up to six.
I am so happy now, it’s really changed my quality of life. Little things, like wearing swimming costumes, are different for me now. It used to be awful in summer – sometimes you could see it pop down through the costume, which was so embarrassing.
I’m not shy about what I’ve had done. I talk about it with everyone. People are fascinated about exactly what the procedure involves. Women in particular want to know everything about labia surgery because there’s still not much info out there and talking to your doctor about it isn’t always easy.
The Labiaplasty Surgery cost me about $6000 and even less if you have private cover, but it was so worth it. I can honestly say the day I found someone out there doing this kind of surgery was the greatest day of my life”.