So, About Those Uneven Balls

What would it take for you to have genital cosmetic surgery?

There I was reading my latest issue of Wellcome News like any proper science nerd when I came across a story in the Table of Contents titled “Designer Vaginas.” I skipped the stuff on stem cell this and astrocyte that and dove in. The opening lines:

“Female genital cosmetic surgery is on the rise. The number of labiaplasties performed in the UK has increased at least five-fold in the last decade.”

The standout word, of course, was “cosmetic.” There’s often talk of genital surgery as it relates to accidents or sex changes, but in terms of sheer looks? Where is this pressure coming from? The next paragraph contained one answer:

“There was broad agreement on the reasons for the rising incidence of the procedure. The greater availability of pornography was the first factor cited. With more women and girls coming into contact with pornography, often at an early age, an unrealistic impression can be created of a limited variation in appearance of female genitalia.”

As men are the predominant porn watchers I thought of the immediate impact on us. Guys in porn are notorious for being well-endowed. Talk about an unrealistic impression. How many men have considered permanent penis surgeries in part because of such impressions? I wondered about any norms, about how small or misshapen a man’s penis must be before surgery is contemplated. What about severely lopsided balls? Many of the women having labiaplasties did so because of uneven labia lips. How does all this tie in with cosmetic breast, pec or nose jobs or with our culture’s obsession with cosmetic surgeries in general?

“The problem is even more acute with genitals than with breasts, noses or other body parts, because of the lack of everyday opportunities for comparison. This can lead to a sense of abnormality, particularly among the young and vulnerable. Another factor is the increasingly mainstream acceptance of cosmetic enhancement.”

The article went on to discuss Centrefold, a Wellcome Trust-funded film about female genital cosmetic surgery. It won Best Animation Award at the 2012 Scinema Festival of Science Film. While viewing the film I couldn’t help but apply much of it to men and the anatomy of men. I wondered about the percentages of men having such surgeries or even the percentages of men who secretly would want to. How might the numbers compare between men and women?

Have you ever thought of having such a surgery? What would it take for you to do so? A total lack of confidence? A disruption during sex? Something else altogether?

Centrefold from Ellie Land on Vimeo.


About Cameron Conaway

Cameron Conaway is a former MMA fighter, an award-winning poet and the 2014 Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona. He is the author of Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet, Bonemeal: Poems, Until You Make the Shore and Malaria, Poems. Conaway is also on the Editorial Board at Slavery Today. Follow him on Google+ and on Twitter: @CameronConaway.


  1. Graham Gemmell says:

    The number of men who would or want to? Staggeringly high. The number of men terrified of anything sharp or coming near their junk? Incredibly close to the same number. I believe engthening surgeries are the safest available procedure for men. During these procedures, the ligaments that hold the penis in place are cut and then reattached, allowing another 2-3 inches of the penis to come forward. Other options, like fat injections for thickening have been tried in the past, but based on the literature I’ve read (come on, this stuff is weirdly interesting) it’s had very mixed results.

    It’s hard to come up with a corollary for men with the labial surgeries, since sensation can vary from woman to woman, but I can see the argument being made for adult male circumcision as a choice some make in their 20’s for purely cosmetic reasons. Perhaps if the majority of us were not circumcised at all (from a North American POV), we might see the same numbers?

    Also, there still plenty of vaginal variation in pornography. (There’s an alliteration I never thought I’d use)

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