Nearly 1 in 5 women are now considering labiaplasty, a 'designer vagina' surgery, that involves reducing labia size so they do not protrude, finds a new Australian research.
The study also found women exposed to images of female genitalia are more likely to get tempted to consider the procedure.
Australian researchers from the school of psychology at Flinders University conducted a survey among 351 women aged 18-69 of whom 17% expressed willingness to undergo labiaplasty.
Nearly 13% of the survey participants had been negatively commented upon for their genital appearance by their romantic partners and 19% of them had had a discussion about genital appearance with their friends.
Gemma Sharp, the study author, said: "Our study is the first to systematically examine the role of the media, romantic partners and friends on women's consideration of labiaplasty."
She added, "Our findings suggest a worrying trend of women becoming dissatisfied with the appearance of their genitals. We think that if women and their partners were made aware of the large variation in normal genital appearance this might help to alleviate some of their concerns about their own genitals."
The study revealed exposure to a variety of media sources such as television, internet, advertising and pornography that displayed images of female genitalia induced a desire in women to consider labiaplasty.
Women who received negative comments from their romantic partners and those who discussed genital appearance with their friends also expressed interest in undergoing the cosmetic genital surgery.
Dr David Veale, consultant psychiatrist at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and The Priory Hospital North London, said, "This study suggests that the media, romantic partners and friends are influential in shaping women's perceptions of their own genital appearance and decisions to undergo labiaplasty."
It is possible that women (and their partners) don't realize women in porn may have had a surgical modification of their labia, observed Dr. Veale. Consequently, women with perfectly normal labia may think they look abnormal compared to women who have modified labia, he added.
Dr. Veale is convening the genital surgery symposium at the Appearance Matters conference which will also feature research on visible difference, cosmetic surgery, body image, education, ethics, media, weight and provision of care.