Eighteen till I die?
By Priyanjali Ghose - BANGALORE
18th August 2012 10:08 AM
Ladies, when was the last time that you felt 18 again? A recently launched vaginal health care product by the same name assures that it can make you feel the bliss all over again.
The gel promises to tighten vaginal muscles and promises to ‘empower women’. Whether the product, which claims to be the first of its kind in India, achieves the desired results, remains a question.
However, its advertisement on the television and internet has sparked off controversies and evoked mixed response. Some feel that the product is offensive while others feel that it tries to cash in on female insecurities.
The woman in a traditional household doing salsa with her husband and crooning in the ad, “Ooh, I feel like a virgin,” has set many questioning not only the need for such a product but also virginity as a concept in the present Indian relationships and society.
City Express speaks to experts and takes a look at the bigger questions like what makes such products enter the market and why would a woman want to tighten or do anything to tighten her vagina.
City-based cosmetic plastic surgeons say that though 18 Again is the newbie but they constantly have a couple of patients approach them for vaginoplasty every month.
Dr Madhukumar explains that vaginoplasty is a surgical procedure to tighten the vagina.
Also known as Female Genital Rejuvenation, this includes Vaginal Canal Tightening, Trimming of Labia Minora (inner lips), augmentation of Labia Majora (Outer Lips) and Hymenoplasty. These can be done separately or altogether.
“It is performed to tighten the vaginal lining and muscles, which may become loose due to child birth and aging. The age group who may opt for this surgery is late twenties to forties. We have three to four patients approach us for this surgery in a month,” says Madhukumar.
According to Sahebgowda Shetty, often for better aesthetics, sexual pleasure and healthy lifestyle, women want to tighten vagina.
But does that truly restores and empowers a woman? City-based psychologist and therapist Mythili M Sarma that the modern women opt for Botox and silicon implantations to look beautiful then there is no reason for a product like 18 Again to stay behind.
However, she clarifies that whether it empowers women or improve their relationships is arguable. “India is slowly coming out of the concept of Indian men seeking virgin brides. Nowadays, people seek partners with equal mental and sexual experiences,” she says.
However, according to sexologist and therapist Dr Shankar K N, in many cases virginity becomes an issue to show that you are following the norms and values of culture, religion and society.
Shankar stresses that feeling like a virgin does not liberate a woman and the relationship after the honeymoon period has got to do more with love and attachment.
“Sex is all in the mind not body, it’s more of imagination,” he says. However, he agrees that at times a woman chooses to go for surgeries or use such products because of pressure from their partners or spouse on the decreasing sexual pleasure with the passage of time.
According to Mythili, the use of such products may temporarily give a high but it is a temporary relief emotionally and physically.
“Biological identity is not everything. Fear of aging or losing youth sometimes one feel like trying out these products. But it is better that nature works its way around your body. A relationship cannot be only about the sexual aspect,” she says.
Sumit Chawla, spokesperson for the company that launched the product, clarifies that 18 Again is made from natural materials like aloe vera, vitamin E, pomegranate, almond, and gold aims to improve vaginal problems like protect it from infection, masks foul odour, improves muscle tone and more.
He says before the launch, clinical trials were conducted on around 250 women of various age groups. He assures that 18 Again, which is an over the counter product has no side effects.
“This product empowers women to find long-term solutions to vaginal problems that before this product were never there. When we say ’feel like a virgin’ it’s a metaphor for feeling young,” says Sumit.
Gynecologist Praveena Shenoi however, feels that there is a myth that tightening the vagina would enhance sexual pleasure. According to her, sometimes women apply such gels or go for a surgery to prove to the partner that she is a virgin.
“These products don’t produce any results. It could trigger serious allergic reactions. There are medical indications for tightening the vagina. The first line of treatment would be pelvic floor exercises followed by surgery,” says Shenoi. (With inputs from Prajwala Hegde)
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