FGM or Infundibulation

Female Genital Mutilation Guideline

The United Nations identifies FGM as a form of human rights abuse on the female child and supports the eradication of this practice. This guideline outlines the requirements for management of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at the Women’s. Origins of practice The act of Female Genital Mutilation predates both Christianity and Islam and does not pertain to any specific religion. The practice of infibulation is thought to have arisen out of ancient Egypt. It is also suggested that FGM was associated with patriarchal societies in which men needed assurance of family blood lines. Clitoridectomy, a less extreme form of FGM, was known to be used in Western medicine as late as the 1950s as a treatment for perceived ‘female psychiatric illnesses’.

Reasons for the practice

These are complex, arising from a belief system based on cultural and social tradition and impinge on the woman’s social acceptance and marriageability within her community. While some people believe FGM to be part of religious requirements, this is not the case.

Prevalence of practice

The WHO (2000) estimates that as many as 100 and 140 million women and girls are affected worldwide. This extrapolates to approximately 3 million girls per year at risk of being circumcised. Regions where various extremes of FGM are practiced include Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East. Use of terminology The term Female Genital Mutilation may cause offence to some who practice or have experienced the procedure. Its use in consultation may have the potential to be counterproductive to forming an effective professional relationship with the client and hence detrimental to the provision of her ongoing care for what is a sensitive issue. Accepted forms of description are traditional female surgery or cutting or female circumcision.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)Definitions

The World Health Organization (1997) defined Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons”.

Types of Female Genital Mutilation

The different types of FGM are classified by the extent of the surgery:

  • Type 1: Excision of the prepuce, with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris.
  • Type 11: Excision of the clitoris with part or total excision of the labia minora
  • Type 111: Excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching / narrowing of the vaginal opening (infundibulation)
  • Type 1V: Unclassified, but includes: pricking, piercing or incising the clitoris and/ or labia, stretching of the clitoris and/ or labia, cauterization by burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissue, scraping of the tissue surrounding the vaginal orifice or cutting of the vagina, the introduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina to initiate tightening, bleeding or narrowing of the vagina, as well as any other procedure which falls under the WHO definition of FGM

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Harold M. Reed MD
The Reed Centre for Transgender Surgery
FAQ about FGM  |  Dr.Harold Reed M.D.  |  Miami

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