The hymen myth

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The hymen myth

Monday, 09 September 2019 | Sakshi Sharma

The hymen myth

Brides-to-be are opting for female rejuvenation surgeries. Sakshi Sharma speaks to some gynaecologists and surgeons to discover the reasons and risks

What are perfect weddings made of? A perfect venue, impeccable decor, designer lehengas and eye-popping jewellery as the bride-to-be (and her family) goes to extremes to make her ‘big day’ the most beautiful ever. Unfortunately, looking their best means they also want designer vaginas. Yes, you read that right. In sex-shy India, the trend of brides going for rejuvenation surgeries before their marriage is on the rise. And not just that, there are breast implants, tightening, removal of pigmentation and more. Many surgeons and gynaecologists term it as the ‘Barbie look’, which is like having the vagina of a newborn.

And the reasons could be varied. In the ‘liberal’ times we live in, women desire to have better sexual relations with their partner after marriage, which sometimes boils down to having a hymen that is intact and a vagina that is tight. But then that is not all. The virginity of a woman, as per the Indian social framework, is important or the girl is considered to be “impure” if she loses it. Of course, the influence of patriarchy ensures that this norm is not applicable to men. This is one of the reasons why many brides these days are going for hymenoplasty (re-virgination procedure) too, surgeons reveal.

Why is it trending?

Dr Priya Bansal, cosmetic plastic surgeon at Fortis LaFemme, says, “Sexual satisfaction is of prime importance in a marital relationship. And many women think that genital rejuvenation and breast augmentation procedures are a means to achieve that.”

She adds that in an increasingly liberal society, more women are comfortable in getting physical before marriage. However, as per the stringent societal norms, a sexually-active bride-to-be is also scared about being questioned for losing her virginity by her future husband and in-laws. In order to seek solutions for it, most girls research about the availability, accessibility and affordability of such procedures that can help them regain their ‘Virgin’ status.

Among other reasons, there is also a growing consciousness and awareness behind cosmetics. With the advent of technology and treatment that could reshape your private parts, Dr Rita Bakshi, chairperson of International Fertility Centre, says, that vaginal rejuvenation is becoming more prevalent. “It was not so frequent earlier since people did not pay much attention to how their private parts look but now they don’t want any pigmentation or dark skin. They want a cleaner look and a particular shape of the labya (lips of the vagina). They are becoming more conscious of their private parts,” she adds.

Of course, with the growing obsession to maintain perfect social media profiles and clicking Instagram-worthy pictures, women are also increasingly concerned about the size of their breasts as they feel inferior and underconfident if it is not a perfect dimension. “Women are openly consulting us for breasts implantation, even when they have perfect sizes so that they can get a natural and firm look,” adds Rita.

Dr Amit Gupta, founder of Divine Cosmetic Surgery, lists some of the other cosmetic surgeries (on other parts of bodies) that brides are opting for before their weddings — botox, fillers, vampire facelifts, lips jobs (could be lip augmentation or reduction), nose jobs, and more. He points out that the digital wave has also created a pressure on brides to look perfect so that the virtual world can see and compliment them. Says he, “The biggest reason why brides are increasingly going for cosmetic surgery procedures is due to social media and the need to look perfect that day for getting the right photographs. They want people to see how they are all dolled-up.” This urge to look flawless and not feel inferior in any way is a huge factor.

However, there are other natural reasons too. Ranjana Sharma, senior consultant at Apollo Cradle Royale, says that there are women who have a loose vagina opening, called introitus, which makes them uncomfortable. It causes discomfort and could interfere with the level of pleasure during sex. However, she stresses on a notion which women need to understand too. “Lack of pleasure during sex is not only because of a loose vagina but it also depends on their emotional status and relationship with the partners. Some women have thick or unequal labya. In such cases, women are not comfortable wearing bikinis and having sex. Ranjana adds, “Women go for labiaplasty when the two lips (labya) are unequal. In such cases, the surgery becomes important otherwise it could also result in numerous health issues in the long run.”

Is it harmful? yes

Doctors claim that such surgeries have no major side-effects. And they enhance the self-image of the women as there is an improved outward and inner appearance. She gains self-esteem and confidence. Dr Priya says, “There are no side-effects of these surgeries or any negative impact on women’s reproductive health. There is a lot to gain on mental, sexual and psychological health. A rejuvenated vagina adds to the genital self-image, which positively affects a woman’s sexual and mental behaviour and marital relationship.”

However, Dr Ranjana tells us that no surgeries come without certain side-effects, especially when it is done on the most sensitive part of the body. She says that such surgeries leave multiple scars, which could be very painful. “The chances of the body getting damaged is very higher in such cases. We need to understand the generation we are living in. Just because you don’t want your partner to know about your lost virginity, you cannot play with your body and natural functions.”

Dr Rita too opposes such surgeries and says that one should not go for it unless one has a natural body defect. “If you are not happy with your natural self then you cannot be happy with how you look. Women need to know that it can harm them immensely. Breast correction is still fine but the surgeries in lower body can impact your back. They can cause ruptures inside and the silicon gel can leak which increases the risk of a destructured backbone,” she points out  and adds that when surgeons come across cases of women dissatisfied with their existing private parts rather than operating on them unnecessarily, they try to counsel them so that they gain confidence and feel happy with the way they are. “We try to motivate them to validate their existence.”

This signals that there is a dire need for a makeover in the mindset of the people rather than their body parts. One cannot help but recall an episode of Amazon Prime Series Made in Heaven here, where the bride decided to stand up for herself and ensured that the man who she was marrying did so as well. It is after all 2019 and women need to define the contours of feminism further than what the previous generations did. In a time when we are reaching out to the moon, we cannot stick to century-old traditions and orthodox set-ups.

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