From the vaginal steam or ‘vaginal facial’ (thanks Gwyneth Paltrow) to vaginal rejuvenation and clitoral hood reduction, the vagina is getting more and more attention.

Yet the topic is still a little taboo that your best friend might not even know you’ve had a nip tuck down under. But does she really need to?

Let's say right off the bat that you should never feel any pressure from anyone to make changes to your genitalia. Remember, everyone's looks different and there is no 'normal'.

It should always be a personal choice.

READ MORE: 3 things you need to stop doing to your vagina. Like, right now

There are many reasons women opt for cosmetic vaginal procedures. 

Dr. Natalia Novikova in Cape Town, the only certified aesthetic gynaecologist in South Africa, says she's on a mission to empower women to embrace their sexuality and live happier, healthier lives, free of unnecessary discomfort.

Ranging in price from R5K to R20K, there are several invasive and non-invasive treatments that she offers. 

“Such a small thing can change your entire life,” she says, referring to the plethora of effective treatments.

Talking to her this week she tells me that it frustrates her that the focus has only always been on stories that it's just about appearance.

From watching a documentary or two and reading an article here and there about labia- and vaginoplasty, I, like many others, have viewed this trend of vaginal ‘fixes’ as treatment needs birthed out of the so-called ‘plasticisation of women’ – blaming porn and unrealistic beauty standards for women who now suddenly seek porn star 'perfection' and feel their bits are inferior. Too dark, too long or too loose.

But a lot of the time, this view is a myth.

Not quite dinner party conversation

This 'porn pussy' misconception might even be news to most, as you might have never even heard about labiaplasty.

And for those who do have limited knowledge on the topic tend to have a one-sided view as it’s something that’s only ever whispered about.

So hidden it's certainly not discussed around a dinner table and she says that many women don’t tell anyone about their concerns out of fear of being considered unreasonable or ridiculous.

READ MORE: Afrikaners and sex – teaching girls 'ordentlikheid' is dangerous

No she says, most women who come to her do so for functionality issues. And she strongly emphasises that women do this for them, not for a partner.  

Dr. Novikova says that in South Africa women find her via word of mouth or when they Google a specific condition they suffer from. 

Between 80% and 90% of her patients have some kind of issue with vaginal dryness, loss of laxity due to giving birth, loss of sexual pleasure or vaginal lips they feel self-conscious about, that interfere with sex and certain activities like horse-riding.

And what a lot of people also don’t know is that women who are suffering from or have suffered from cancer, especially breast cancer, are affected by various problems after chemo, like vaginal dryness which can easily be corrected with laser.

Who gets what and why?

A few reasons as to why, as given to Dr. Novikova by her patients:

“I can’t orgasm”
“I pee when I cough”
“I can’t feel my husband when we have sex”
“My vagina is dry, sex is painful”

READ MORE: 5 things to always do after sex

Here are some of the treatments available and a few testimonials from her patients:

Femilift Vaginal Tightening (laser treatment done ‘over lunch’)

Most popular in South Africa, it treats urinary incontinence, vaginal dryness and vaginal laxity. 

“Before I had my children I had an amazing sex life, 3 natural births later, it was like there was nothing there. It feels tighter for me, my sex drive and orgasms are back! My husband can’t believe the difference either.” - 40 year old

Labiaplasty (a more invasive surgical procedure)

For mostly functional changes like long labia that get in the way during sex and other concerns like burning and itching from friction caused by clothing and exercise.

Surgery alters the size and shape of the inner and outer vaginal lips.

“I had almost given up on tight pants, gym clothes and sexy panties.

I was always tucking in my labia or it was just unbearably painful. The operation was so quick and easy, I didn’t even need to take painkillers.

Now I can wear any clothes I like. I am so happy with the results of the procedure.” - 22 year old

Labia fillers (injections)

These are used to increase the volume of labia majora (bigger genital lips).

As women get older, lose a lot of weight or give birth, their labia may change shape and become more lax, less full or deflated.

Loss of tone and firmness of labia majora can cause discomfort because of reduced protection from excessive friction and impact.

Other treatments include:

O-Shot: They inject PRP (platelet-rich plasma) into your G-spot to enhance orgasm.

This 'vampire facial' for your vagina helps stimulate production of collagen and help the vagina become more lubricated with a regeneration of tissue. 

G-Shot: This injects hyaluronic acid in the area of the G-spot to help enhance the sexual arousal and orgasm.

READ MORE: This award-winning animated film's explanation of the clitoris is beautiful

Botox injection: It's said to start working after 2 weeks and is used to treat women with Vaginismus.

Vaginismus is a condition when women experience pain during vaginal penetration due to the involuntary contraction of vaginal muscles.

The injection relaxes the muscles so women are able to have intercourse without pain.

“It's been years of painfully struggling to have intercourse or to even insert tampons.

I had been to other gynaecologists and GPs who had injured me trying to examine me or perform a pap smear, which probably made my condition worse.

Dr Novikova diagnosed me with vaginismus. Within a few weeks of my botox procedure I could already see a difference, and now 6 months later… I am living a completely normal life." - 27 year old

For more info go here.

We'd love to hear your personal story. Have you ever had any of these procedures done and how has it changed your life? Mail us at chatback@w24.co.za