Are you a woman? Have you had gynecological problems? Have you had long or stretched out labia that are uncomfortable or visible in your clothing? Has your vagina been stretched out? Have you ever lost control of your bladder?

All of these questions are important to ask oneself before forming an opinion about the women who chose to undergo cosmetic gynecological surgery, or the procedures themselves. Often, individuals who have never experienced the discomfort associated with enlarged labia, vaginal relaxation or organ prolapse are the first to judge, simply because of relatability. Those who haven’t experienced it find it difficult to see the value of the corrective surgery (e.g., labiaplasty for labial issues, laser vaginal rejuvenation for tightening or stress urinary incontinence), and often quickly and unjustly classify it as needless or frivolous.

To establish a frame of reference and to begin how to understand experience of the women who choose these procedures, education is a great first step. For those of you who want the procedure and are having difficulty garnering support from your loved ones, encourage them to look at before and after pictures, to review websites of esteemed surgeons performing the procedure(s), and to ask questions. Ask those around you to recount a time in their life that was similar, whether it was deciding to make a lifestyle change to be healthier or get knee surgery to regain a loss of function. These are all important steps that will help encourage others to take your perspective, and to truly understand the discomfort you experience and why this has empowered you to strive for change.