UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Body enhancement through female genital cosmetic surgery creates ethical and rights dilemmas

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Publication Date


Document Type



Decision Making; Ethics, Medical; Female; Genitalia, Female; Health Education; Humans; Reconstructive Surgical Procedures; *Women's Rights; World Health


Bioethics and Medical Ethics | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Plastic Surgery | Women's Health


Female genital cosmetic surgery is surgery performed on a woman within a normal range of variation of human anatomy. The issues are heightened by a lack of long-term and substantive evidence-based literature, conflict of interest from personal financial gain through performing these procedures, and confusion around macroethical and microethical domains. It is a source of conflict and controversy globally because the benefit and harm of offering these procedures raise concerns about harmful cultural views, education, and social vulnerability of women with regard to both ethics and human rights. The rights issues of who is defining normal female anatomy and function, as well as the economic vulnerability of women globally, bequeath the profession a greater responsibility to ensure that there is adequate health and general education-not just among patients but broadly in society-that there is neither limitation nor interference in the decision being made, and that there are no psychological disorders that could be influencing such choices. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


Cosmetic surgery, Ethics, Vaginoplasty, Vulvoplasty, Women's rights

DOI of Published Version



Cain JM, Iglesia CB, Dickens B, Montgomery O. Body enhancement through female genital cosmetic surgery creates ethical and rights dilemmas. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2013 Aug;122(2):169-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2013.03.020. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics: the official organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics

PubMed ID