I was complaining to second year (M2) about a certain Ob-Gyn who is affiliated with the school that I thought personified every negative stereotype of obstetrics. Everything that Ina May warns you about, this guy advocated in the thirty minutes I heard him speak. My classmate said, “Oh, don’t worry, there are better lecturers in Ob-Gyn” and told me about a physician who gave a presentation to his class about vaginaplasty. He thought this man was a real humanitarian – did I realize what kind of self esteem boost these women get if he surgically “corrects” labia that are different in size? Did I know that some women have vulvas that look abnormal? (Disclaimer: I am not discussing medical procedures here. I am discussing purely cosmetic procedures.)
I explained to him that I had seen more than my fair share of women’s external genitalia in my training as a midwife, and they all look different. Very very different. There is a great variety in real live women’s parts, and a large range of this is very normal. If we weren’t both studying for gross anatomy, he would have heard about an hour of rant from me, but I didn’t mention that women with cosmetic breast implants suffer from much higher rates of suicide (ego boost much?). I didn’t ask how many men get a woman they find attractive into bed, and then turn her down because her vagina isn’t symmetrical? I had already mentioned the recent ACOG position statement warning that these procedures have no medical basis, and that the risks far outweigh any unproven benefits.
I did ask him this: “Would you get a foreskin reattached to your penis?” He looked horrified. He started stammering about how unsanitary foreskins were, and I cut him off with a quick “Both of my boys are intact and I disagree with you based on my own research, but that is besides the point. If your girlfriend found an intact penis more attractive, would you get a foreskin reattached? Would you get cosmetic surgery on your scrotum if your testicles didn’t hang the same distance?”
He blanched and stammered something about changing his mind about going into Ob-Gyn.