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Female genital cosmetic surgery

The subject of female genital cosmetic surgery (FGCS) has only recently been investigated in Australia. International medical research is also limited, with the few published articles that deal with the primary care physician’s role available from a search of journal databases such as Medline and PubMed, having been published in the UK. Timeframe restrictions were not applied in these journal searches and saturation of material was achieved in early 2015, when no new papers were discovered in either database. Overall, the search showed there was a lack of evidence-based research in the literature.

References and publications used by key authors were analysed. The works of the most commonly cited and published researchers are from the UK, Canada and the US. Their material was searched by hand. The ethical discussion papers from various countries’ colleges of obstetrics and gynaecology have also been very informative.

The range of information acquired was from sources as diverse as mainstream media, documentary programs, ethical and feminist publications, case studies and surveys by plastic surgeons, public discussion forums and web-based platforms. Exploration of online marketing of FGCS, available surgical procedures and discussions in women’s magazines were also considered. FGCS raises many issues for the general practitioner (GP) and other health professionals, as well as the broader community.

Some compare FGCS procedures to female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C). The World Health Organization (WHO) defines FGM/C as ‘all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural, religious or non-therapeutic reasons’.

Given the paucity of quality evidence in the area of FGCS, all recommendations in this document should be considered at National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) practice-point level.