By Lane Florsheim published
Vaginal reconstruction might seem like the most frivolous of plastic surgeries. It's a procedure that an insecure Real Housewife would sign up for. A supposed signal of feminism's continuing decline. Along with vajazzling, or increasingly ornate bikini waxes, reconstructing your own genitals so they resemble your past probably seems like a desperate act.
Unfortunately for me, it was desperate. Just not in the way you might think.
By my mid-30s, my vagina was ruined. My third child weighed almost 10 pounds when she was born, and her delivery tore me so badly that I had to remain in the hospital for five days due to the internal bleeding.
I lost control of my urinary system after that. Urine would leak out whenever I coughed, or ran, or even laughed. I started wearing a pad at all times, changing it three to four times a day. It felt disgusting, like I was just sitting in my own puddle for hours.
You imagine that your sex life will suffer after having kids—who has the time, the energy, the clean(ish) hair?—but not like this. My husband and I had sex less frequently, sure, but when we did, I was too loose-feeling to reach an orgasm, and I couldn't tighten my muscles around him so he could feel any pleasure, either. Each encounter felt sad and incredibly frustrating.
I tried to regain my tightness through exercises. Everyone's heard of Kegels, but I also bought a little machine that I'd put between my thighs and contract, contract, contract. I googled endlessly for other tricks or at-home remedies. I read about a tea made of boiled almonds, honey, and cinnamon that you then inserted internally, like a douche. Surprise, surprise: It didn't work.
I found out about laser vaginal rejuvenation (LVR) through a work friend, of all people. My husband had started cheating on me, and I opened up to her about our struggles and how I was considering divorce. She revealed that she'd undergone LVR due to her own issues and told me it changed her life. After hearing that, of course I decided to go in. I didn't really consider the risks. I just didn't think things could get any worse.
My husband and I met the plastic surgeon my friend recommended, Dr. David Matlock. He was wonderfully patient, and talked me through the entire procedure. During LVR, the surgeon cuts the muscles of the vaginal wall with a laser, then sutures them back together so they're tighter than before. I would have control over my muscles again, whether for better sex or better peeing.
My husband and I decided to take a chance to save our marriage. Insurance doesn't cover LVR, and it cost us $15,000. We could have put a down payment on a house, or bought some incredibly nice wedding ring for me. But this was more important to us both.
I was knocked out for the surgery, which took a couple of hours. Healing didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. I iced the area a bit because it swelled up, but I didn't even take the pain medication. I think that once you've given birth, everything else feels like a paper cut. I went to work the very next day, albeit in sweatpants to hide the catheter. Five days later, the catheter came out and all the pain was over.
We had to abstain from sex for six weeks. When he finally entered me, I cried with happiness. I will never forget it. It felt like losing my virginity all over again—so monumental, and, yes, so tight.
Sex is normal again. It's good, and I love it. I can wear a bathing suit without worrying about needing a diaper-like pad. I get to laugh again. LVR gave me my life back. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made.
I'm the features editorial assistant at Marie Claire. Before working at MC, I spent time in the production department at The New Republic and writing about politics for Bustle. When I'm not writing, you can find me museum-hopping, practicing mediocre yoga, and stalking pugs on Instagram.
Britney Spears Tells Jamie Lynn That She Knows Her "Real Heart" On Twitter
Britney penned another long, heartfelt, open missive to her sister on Twitter.
By Kathleen Walsh
Jennifer Lopez Nailed L.A. Hippie Chic Style While Out and About With Daughter Emme
I've personally been fooled by the rocks that she got.
By Iris Goldsztajn
Kate Middleton Is Responsible for the Royal Family's Future, Insider Says
Sounds like a lot...
By Iris Goldsztajn
Senator Klobuchar: "Early Detection Saves Lives. It Saved Mine"
Senator and breast cancer survivor Amy Klobuchar is encouraging women not to put off preventative care any longer.
By Senator Amy Klobuchar
How Being a Plus-Size Nude Model Made Me Finally Love My Body
I'm plus size, but after I decided to pose nude for photos, I suddenly felt more body positive.
By Kelly Burch
I'm an Egg Donor. Why Was It So Difficult for Me to Tell People That?
Much like abortion, surrogacy, and IVF, becoming an egg donor was a reproductive choice that felt unfit for society’s standards of womanhood.
By Lauryn Chamberlain
The 20 Best Probiotics to Keep Your Gut in Check
Gut health = wealth.
By Julia Marzovilla
Simone Biles Is Out of the Team Final at the Tokyo Olympics
She withdrew from the event due to a medical issue, according to USA Gymnastics.
By Rachel Epstein
The Truth About Thigh Gaps
We're going to need you to stop right there.
By Kenny Thapoung
3 Women On What It’s Like Living With An “Invisible” Condition
Despite having no outward signs, they can be brutal on the body and the mind. Here’s how each woman deals with having illnesses others often don’t understand.
By Emily Shiffer
The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain
Three women open up about how their conditions impact their bodies—and their wallets.
By Alice Oglethorpe