WHO short-term health risks of female genital mutilation



New Delhi, November 10, 2019 :

  • Severe pain. Cutting the nerve ends and sensitive genital tissue causes extreme pain. The healing period is also painful.
  • Excessive bleeding (hemorrhage). Can result if the clitoral artery or other blood vessel is cut.
  • Shock. Can be caused by pain, infection and/or haemorrhage.
  • Genital tissue swelling. Due to inflammatory response or local infection.
  • Infections. May spread after the use of contaminated instruments (e.g. use of same instruments in multiple genital mutilation operations), and during the healing period.
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The direct association between FGM and HIV remains unconfirmed, although the cutting of genital tissues with the same surgical instrument without sterilization could increase the risk for transmission of HIV between girls who undergo female genital mutilation together.
  • Urination problems. These may include urinary retention and pain passing urine. This may be due to tissue swelling, pain or injury to the urethra.
  • Impaired wound healing. Can lead to pain, infections and abnormal scarring.
  • Death. Death can result from infections, including tetanus, as well as haemorrhage that can lead to shock.
  • Mental health problems. The pain, shock and the use of physical force during the event, as well as a sense of betrayal when family members condone and/or organize the practice, are reasons why many women describe FGM as a traumatic event.

(Source: WHO)

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