Help for GPs dealing with patient labia anxiety

Dr Simonis says GPs can be at a disadvantage when confronted by female patients who have become convinced that their genitalia are unsightly, abnormal and in need of surgical intervention.

“They are requesting something that we didn’t get taught about,” she said, referring to the procedure known as the “Barbieplasty” because of the resulting resemblance to a Barbie doll.

“The only images on the internet are skewed portrayals of often-modified genitalia, often hairless with no labia minora, so that has become the socially accepted ideal not only to women but to men and also to health professionals, because they are influenced by similar sociocultural forces.”

The RACGP is moving to help GPs address women’s concerns about their anatomy and the possible risks of surgery by commissioning a toolkit on female genital cosmetic (FGC) surgery, which Dr Simonis expects will be completed in the new year.