Female Circumcision

What is Female Circumsiction?

Female circumcision (FC), also know as female genital cutting or female genital mutilation, is any procedure that alters or removes part of a women’s vulva. The vulva is a woman’s external genitals. There are four distinct types of FC:

Unaltered Vagina
National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers
  1. Type I: Clitoridotomy - splitting or removal of the clitoral hood (prepuce)
     
    • this is the least damaging form of FC
    • equivalent to removing the foreskin (prepuce) of a penis
    • can greatly increase clitoral sensitivity
    • usually performed on adults
    • recently becoming a popular form of plastic surgery in the United States
  2. Type I
    National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers

     
  3. Type II: Clitordectomy – removal of the external clitoris and sometimes the labia minora
     
    • most commonly practiced in Sub-Saharan Africa, East Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Indonesia, and the Arabian Peninsula
    • sometimes coupled with severing the pubic nerve, neurectomy, to deaden all feeling in the vulva and vagina
  4. Type II
    National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers

     
  5. Type III: Infibulated (pharaonic) – removal of clitoris, labia minora and sometimes labia majora, and stitching the vaginal opening closed leaving only a small hole for urine and menstrual blood to pass through
     
    • 4 – 6 years old is the average age of the procedure
    • in some cases, instead of stitching, the young girls legs a tied together for two weeks so the wounds will heal together creating the same sort of flap that stitching would
    • causes a lack of sexual sensation
    • can make sexual intercourse difficult and dangerous if the opening is made too small
    • the skin flap must be cut open during childbirth and often sewn up again after so the women is not rejected by her husband
    • also a common practice in Sub-Saharan Africa, East Africa, Egypt, Sudan, Indonesia, and the Arabian Peninsula
  6. Type III
    National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers

     
  7. Type IV – any procedure that affects a woman’s genitals
     
    • this is usually pricking or ritual cutting of the vulva
    • may also be piercing and stretching of the clitoris and surrounding areas
    • most often performed by tribal cultures

Female circumcision is usually preformed by an elder woman in the community. The young girl is held down by her mother, or another woman in the community, as the matron performs the procedure. It can be done with a knife, broken piece of glass, or specialized cutting tool. There is normally no anesthesia administered to the young girl. This lack of sterility is the leading cause of the health complication caused by FC.

In some countries it is performed by a doctor in a hospital setting, but this is becoming illegal in more and more countries. In sterile condition type I and type II FC have low complication rates.

Key

  1. Clitoral Hood (Foreskin)
  2. Clitoris
  3. Urethra
  4. Vaginal Opening
  5. Hymen
  6. Bartholin's glands
  7. Perineum
  8. Anus
  9. Mons Veneris
  10. Labia majora
  11. Labia minora