The harm

What is Female Genital Mutilation?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines FGM as all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

Types of FGM Female Genital Mutilation Classification
Type 1 Consists of partial or total removal of the clitoris and or its prepuce. Type I is also known as clitoridectomy.
Type 2 The clitoris and labia minora are partially or totally removed. Excision of the labia majora may or may not also occur.
Type 3 Infibulation or pharaonic type is considered the most severe. This involves narrowing of the vaginal orifice and the creation of a covering seal. The seal is created by suturing or holding the cut areas together. The girl’s legs may be bound together during healing. A small opening is left in the vagina for urine and menstrual blood to come out. The clitoris may or may not be removed.
Type 4 All other procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical reasons: pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterising.

Some of the physical, psychological and sexual impacts of FGM are:

Immediate physical impact of FGM:

  • Severe pain
  • Shock
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Infections
  • Injury to nearby genital tissue

Death can be caused by severe bleeding leading to haemorrhagic shock, neurogenic shock caused by pain and trauma, overwhelming infection and septicaemia.

Longer-term physical impact of FGM:

  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic pelvic infections
  • Development of cysts
  • Abscesses
  • Back pain
  • Genital ulcers
  • Excessive scar tissue formation
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Genital Herpes
  • Infection of the reproductive system
  • Infertility
  • Risks to mothers’ and babies’ health and life during pregnancy and birth

Psychological impact of FGM:

  • Decreased sexual enjoyment
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Traumatic memories
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Memory loss

Sexual impact of FGM:

  • Fear of sexual intercourse
  • Pain and bleeding
  • The male partner can suffer from pain and bleeding

Medical help in Oxford

If you are experiencing complications from being cut, you can seek medical advice from your GP. You can speak to your GP about a referral to the Oxford Rose Clinic, a specialist FGM clinic based at the John Radcliffe Hospital. This clinic also accepts self-referrals (via email: oxfordrose.clinic@nhs.net). This is a confidential service open to pregnant and non-pregnant women that is run by a female doctor. It is held monthly. The clinic also offers a deinfibulation (“opening”) service for women who have had Type 3 FGM. Click here to learn more about how the clinic can help (film from the app, Let’s talk FGM) and click here for a leaflet about the clinic.

References

Nowark M (2010) UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. World Health Organization

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