By Khuli Makhaye

Women have always been the largest consumers of plastic surgery since… well, plastic surgery became a thing

Remember when plastic surgery was just for the rich and famous? When it was just for aesthetic purposes? According to ISAPS (that’s the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) Global Statistics, in the year 2015, 84,7% of women went under the knife for medical reasons and a whopping 85,6% for cosmetic procedures.

Is plastic surgery that popular in Mzansi? It has to be. According to ISAPS, South Africa is ranked number 26 in the Top 30 countries ranked by estimated number of plastic surgeons with 265 surgeons.

Gone are those days of the odd nip and tuck on the faces, breasts, butt and stomach. Women are now and have been for a while now, getting their lady parts done. Yes you read right… the good old vagina!

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Why would anyone want to give their vijayjay, as Oprah calls our lady bits, a facelift?

Vaginal renewal, as it is called (yes it’s a thing) is used to describe a need for clinical intervention due to genuine health concerns some women may experience. Emphasis on genuine! Vaginal renewal is for addressing dryness, atrophy and thinning and certainly not for aesthetic purposes.

You may need vaginal renewal if you are:

1. Going through menopausal transition
2. A cancer survivor
3. On certain medications like oral contraceptives
4. If you haven’t used your lady parts in a long time

Vaginal renewal procedures are not that big in South Africa but there are many products in the market sold over the counter to tighten the vagina. Some of these products can be detrimental to one’s health. Men (and I mean both males and females here) have been fascinated by the tightening of the vagina since the beginning of time. From the cheap china fruit to the fancy oils to the more in-depth programmes by doctors.

Even our very own Dr. Eve (South African sexologist and couple and sex therapist  Dr. Marlene Wasserman) has her own Vaginal Renewal programme which according to her website is combination of products from around the world for replenishing and renewing the vagina.

The main procedures for vaginal renewal are:

  • Vaginoplasty is a procedure that aims to ‘tighten up’ a vagina that’s become slack or loose from vaginal childbirth or aging.
  • Labiaplasty, plastic surgery on the labia (the ‘lips’ surrounding the vagina). This can be performed alone or with vaginoplasty.
  • Laser vaginal renewal is actually performed using the radiofrequency device and is a combination of the labiaplasty and vaginoplasty procedures to renew the overall appearance and function of the vagina.

Jada Pinkett Smith opens up about undergoing ‘vaginal rejuvenation’ treatment

How do you know what’s good for you?

“Other times the term vaginal renewal is used as a tactic to sell unnecessary vanity products,” says Marie Stopes Advocacy and Engagement Manager Andrea Thompson.

According to Thompson, women should never douche or insert any treatment into the vagina that hasn’t been prescribed by a doctor or nurse.

“Except in some special circumstances, women should be reminded that vaginas are self-regulating, self-cleaning organs that don’t require particular products or treatments to be healthy,” she says.

Younger women may experience vaginal dryness or the inability to lubricate during sex which could be connected to a hormone imbalance. For this, Thompson suggests visiting a gynaecologist who can clarify and help find a more comfortable balance.

“Older women, approaching or during menopause may begin to experience changes in the skin of the vagina, less lubrication over time, dryness and even pain during sex or urination. This can point to vaginal atrophy which can lead to vaginal infections and urinary difficulties. Women experiencing these symptoms should visit a healthcare provider for a diagnosis and advice,” she says.

How to maintain vaginal health

  • Have a regular pap smear (even beyond one’s reproductive years)
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as well as probiotics such as those found in unsweetened yogurt, apples and cranberry juice, etc.
  • Avoid smoking
  • And most importantly, practise safe sex

“Regular sex or masturbation can help maintain vaginal estasticity and also help a woman to track changes in her body’s own lubrication. Using lubricants during sex and masturbation with sex toys as well is a key to both managing these issues and increasing pleasure and comfort during sex,” says Thompson.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.