Introduction: Increasing numbers of women are seeking labial reduction surgery. We studied the motivations for considering labial reduction surgery as recounted on women’s online communities and surgery provider’s websites.
Aims: The study analyzed motivations for considering labial reduction surgery expressed by women on online communities, looked at the role of the women’s age and nationality, compared findings with motivations indicated on the websites of an international sample of surgery providers, and identified similarities to and differences from what is known from extant studies.
Methods: Quantitative content analysis of the posts of 78 American, British, and Dutch women on online communities, and 40 international surgery providers’ websites about labial reduction surgery was conducted.
Main Outcome Measures: Main outcome measures concerned the incidence and prominence of different motivational categories (functional/emotional and discomfort/enhancement related). Differences in motivations as a function of age, national background, and women’s vs. surgeons’ stated motivations were tested.
Results: Emotional discomfort regarding self-appearance and social and sexual relationships was found to be the most frequent and most prominent motivation for considering labial reduction surgery on women’s online communities, regardless of age and national background. Functional discomfort and desired emotional enhancement ranked second. Very few age or national differences were found. The surgeons’ websites recognized functional discomfort more and elaborated upon emotional issues in sexual relationships less than members of the online communities.
Conclusions: Feelings of emotional and psychosexual distress in addition to functional distress are a highly prevalent motivation among women considering labial reduction surgery. Emotional distress appears to be greater and more freely emphasized when women communicate on online communities, while functional issues appear to receive greater notice on surgery provider’s websites.
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