Female genital mutilation is a procedure where the female genitals are ‘cut, injured or changed’ [1]. There are four types of the procedure: clitoridectomy where part/ all of the clitoris is removed, excision where part/all of the clitoris and the inner labia are removed, infibulations where the vaginal opening is narrowed. The fourth type is when the area is burnt or pierced. I am aware of the fact that there is no medical need for the act, religious stipulation and that it is illegal in the UK. This post will be focused on the health problems FGM cases present with.

Harm caused by FGM includes:

  • Constant pain caused by the cutting of the nerve endings and the sensitive genital tissue. The more severe the method, the greater the pain. The genital tissue can also swell due to an inflammatory response because of the tissue being damaged or due to an infection.
  • pain whilst menstruating and difficulty in passing menstrual blood due to the narrow vaginal opening or irregular scarring
  • damage to the highly sensitive genital tissue could affect sexual sensitivity leading to pain during sex and difficulty in penetration and lubrication. Of course the traumatic experiences linked with the procedure also affect this area as well as the symptoms already discussed like scars and pain.
  • infections due to the use of unsteralised equipment or during the healing process include:
  • chronic genital infections
  • chronic reproductive tract infections
  • urinary tract infections [2]
  • excessive bleeding can be caused by the clitoral artery or other blood vessels being cut during the process
  • problems passing urine possible due to the swelling of the urethra and the pain of the procedure
  • mental health problems like depression, anxiety, flashbacks, insomnia and PTSD.
  • difficulty during labour- there’s an increased risk of Caesarean and prolonged labour

In conclusion , FGM is not only a problem that is seen as morally ‘wrong’ but also an event that continues to go on that endangers the health of young girls of certain cultures for their entire lives (none of the sources that I have read through speak of the pain going away quickly). Governments have been launching multiple schemes to end the act and this can only be a positive thing in terms of health but I fear that certain groups of the community will become ostracised; the last thing that we need as a society is more division.

What do you think the government or even us as individuals can do to decrease FGM?

Sourcs used:

[1]http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/female-genital-mutilation/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[2] http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/fgm/health_consequences_fgm/en/

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