I’ve disliked my vagina since childbirth

Childbirth tends to traumatize the vagina. Sometimes the impact is relatively slight, at other times more serious. Advice is given to one woman who seriously dislikes her appearance after childbirth.

I have had two beautiful children but since having the first one I have become more and more conscious that my vaginal inner lips stick out and, to make things worse, one more than the other. It is now about a year after having our second girl and I am feeling worse and worse about it. So much so that I often stare obsessively at them in a mirror in the bathroom; I now never walk about naked and only have sex (which is getting rarer) with the lights off. It’s turning me off intimacy and damaging my relationship with my husband.

Our reply – Have your say in the LoveSpace forums:

It does sound as if you’ve got yourself into a terrible state about this, when really the impact of childbirth on your vagina has been quite normal. Of course, we all want our bodies to look ‘just right’, but our ideas about what is right can sometimes be unrealistic. Childbirth tends to traumatize the vagina, often on a deeper, muscular level, tearing the muscles of the pelvic floor. Even the most deftly applied stitches probably won’t have things looking like they used to – and, indeed, why should they? Your body’s moved on – in a good way: you’ve two beautiful children to show for it. Now we need to lose this mental fixation so the rest of you can move on too.

Okay, so there is the cosmetic surgery (vaginoplasty) option, which can remove ‘excess’ tissue and smarten the rest up real nice to create a so-called ‘designer vagina’. There are potential issues here regarding decreased sensitivity, and you might think it’s a bit of a waste of time and cash if you plan on having any more children, but the option’s there if you really want it and have few thousand dollars spare.

On the other hand, you might well want to invest a little more time learning to love your body anew. A therapist could help you. It could help just to take a look at loads of pictures of other people’s vaginas – try the LoveSpace galleries, the genitals galleries, or just run a Google image search. Once you’ve had a good look at your first few hundred or so, you might find it’s difficult to keep the idea in your head of the way a vagina ‘should’ look. Insofar as what counts as normal, there’s one heck of a range.

Thinking now of walking round naked and having sex, who exactly are you worried about here? Who else will be seeing you, apart from yourself and your husband? If your husband’s even noticed things look a tiny bit different, he obviously doesn’t mind one bit. (An issue for men after childbirth can sometimes be that the vagina no longer grips their penis as it did, which is to do with the pelvic floor muscles, not the labia.) Give yourself a break and realise your body can still make you feel lovely, if you let it. And you look fine: it’s a perfectly normal, healthy vagina. Be proud and think of those children you’ve made. Don’t go about rejecting the good work your body has done.

Posted in Health, Pregnancy and Childbirth