Vagina Surgery Being Sought by 'Girls as Young as Nine'
Girls as young as nine are seeking surgery on their genitals because they are distressed by its appearance, the Victoria Derbyshire show has been told.
Dr Naomi Crouch, a leading adolescent gynaecologist, said she was concerned GPs were referring rising numbers of young girls who wanted an operation.
Labiaplasty, as the surgery is known, involves the lips of the vagina being shortened or reshaped.
The NHS says it should not be carried out on girls before they turn 18.
In 2015-16, more than 200 girls under 18 had labiaplasty on the NHS. More than 150 of the girls were under 15.
Some experts fear that pornography and images viewed through social media are leading young girls to have unrealistic perceptions of how their genitals should look.
Dr Crouch, who chairs the British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology, said in her work for the NHS she was yet to see a girl who needed the operation.
"Girls will sometimes come out with comments like, 'I just hate it, I just want it removed,' and for a girl to feel that way about any part of her body - especially a part that's intimate - is very upsetting."
Anna - not her real name - considered having labiaplasty from the age of 14.
"I just picked up from somewhere that it wasn't neat enough or tidy enough and I think I wanted it to be smaller.
"People around me were watching porn and I just had this idea that it should be symmetrical and not sticking out.
"I thought that was what everyone else looked like, because I hadn't seen any normal everyday [images] before then.
"I remember thinking, 'If there's surgery for it, then clearly I'm not the only one who wants this done, and maybe it won't be that big a deal.'."
She later decided not to pursue having an operation.
"I'm totally glad I didn't get it done. I didn't need it. I look totally normal. Completely and utterly normal."
Paquita de Zulueta, a GP for more than 30 years, said it was only in the past few years that girls had started coming to her with concerns over the appearance of their labia.
"I'm seeing young girls around 11, 12, 13 thinking there's something wrong with their vulva - that they're the wrong shape, the wrong size, and really expressing almost disgust.
"Their perception is that the inner lips should be invisible, almost like a Barbie, but the reality is that there is a huge variation. It's very normal for the lips to protrude."