Female genital mutilation and other harmful practices
Health consequences of female genital mutilation
Medical complications after FGM type III
Published in the East African Medical Journal in 1992, this study looked at the medical complications of FGM ( in the paper referred to as female circumcision) in 290 women between the ages of 18 and 54 years in Mogadishu, Somalia. The women completed a questionnaire that was designed to obtain information about age at undergoing FGM, type of FGM, the person performing the procedure, the reasons given for the practice, medical complications, and attitudes to the practice in the future.
Most (88%) of the respondents had been subjected to infibulation (type III), while the remainder had undergone either clitoridectomy (type I) (6.5%) or excision (type II) (5.5%). Sixty-nine per cent of the respondents said they underwent FGM at home and in 52% of cases the person carrying out the procedure was not medically trained person – usually a traditional birth attendant.
The responses showed that 112 (39%) of the interviewed women experienced significant complications immediately following FGM – most commonly haemorrhage, infection or urinary retention. In addition, 108 women (37%) reported later complications such as dermoid cyst at the site of the amputated clitoris, and urinary problems such as pain when urinating, urinary incontinence and poor urinary flow. Forty women stated that they had experienced problems at the time of first menstruation and 10 said they had been operated on because of menstrual blood being retained in the vagina. Most of the married women in the study sample were defibulated naturally by their husbands – which the researchers say is a “long and painful process which can take from 2 to 12 weeks to complete”.