These are health consequences that women often have to deal with for life as a result of FGM:
Research has indictated a positive association between the extent of FGM and primary infertility. It was suggested that this was partly due to infection ascending to the internal genitalia, causing inflammation and scarring. This finding is highly relevant for preventive work against this practice due to the importance that these societies place on childbearing.
FGM might cause environmental disturbances that could allow accumulation of leucocytes, and the anatomical changes brought about by the operation can prevent the free flow of urine and normal hygiene due to the presence of stitches. This could be worsened by the difficulties in emptying the bladder due to painful micturition. A significant link between FGM and UTIs has been found in research. 33
“There is a story about a lady in Sudan who got infection and was not able to pass urine. She had fever because the opening was very small and so she kept getting infections and had bad smelling discharge…The Doctor asked her if she would like to be opened up but she refused because she was not married and did not want her to lose her virginity.”
Many women tend to have problems with penetration after they are married, which can be painful for both the man and the woman. If this is the case, the husband will often cut the opening with a knife which can lead to further pain and infection. The lack of pleasure for both man and woman can lead to rejection and divorce.
“When the girl marries, sexual intercourse is traumatizing and painful and she feels no desire to have sex other than the fact that it is the wife’s obligation”
This complication was reported by 13% of 522 women in a study in South West Nigeria. Therefore what was intended as a type II female genital mutilation may become a type III. 24
This is commonly described by women during interview studies, causing ongoing and emotional suffering for years after the procedure:
“There is one woman who still experiences panic attacks and fear related to the experience of being circumcised, but yet is not able to speak out about it,
or to talk to someone, as culture prevents them seeking help.”
“There is a woman who cannot forget. She always talks about the picture of the tray, the instruments, the cotton and the smell of dettol on that day. Till today when that woman smells dettol, she vomits. She saw all women like enemies on that day and can never forget it.”
A pilot study in 2010 investigated the mental health status of women after genital mutilation, by comparing
the responses of 23 circumcised Senegalese women to 24 uncircumcised Senegalese women using a
neuropsychiatric interview and questionnaires:
- 22 out of the 23 women recalled the event as traumatizing
- 90% described feelings of intense fear and helplessness
- 80% continue to suffer with flash backs of the event
The research concluded that the circumcised women showed a significantly higher prevalence of post
traumatic stress disorder (30.4%) than the uncircumcised women, and that this was accompanied
by memory problems.