Female circumcision - Health Effects

  • By Suman Singh

The procedure is carried out by either snipping off a piece of the clitoris or removal of all external genitalia for non-medical reasons. The procedure is carried out outside hospitals and the environment may not be effectively clean and could lead to infection. The painful procedure causes a lot of fear and distress. Some countries have begun to use healthcare personnel to cut the genitals, which reduces pain, bleeding and infection but it does not mean that it is acceptable by the United Nations.

Even though the United Nation has termed female circumcision as a violation of human rights, there are millions of girls suffer because it is a requirement for girls so that they remain pure. It is supposed to lower female libido so that they do not indulge in any kind of sexual activity before marriage.

Immediate complications
Girls are likely to suffer severe pain besides the fear that accompanies such a procedure. It can cause them more pain when they try to urinate. If there is severe bleeding, it can lead to haemorrhage. The tissues that form the genitals are severely damaged and healing may not take place immediately and sores can form leading to more pain. Girls can retain urine for fear of the pain. There is always a chance of contracting tetanus or other bacterial infections like sepsis which lead to formation of pus.

Besides cutting, procedures can include pricking, piercing, incising, scraping, and cauterizing the genital area.

Long term health problems
Besides the immediate problems, female circumcision can lead to long term effects including infertility. The girls can be subjected to urinary tract infections and bladder infections that can recur again and again. Sometimes cysts may also form. There are chances that there could be increased risk of problems during childbirth which could in extreme cases result in the death of the newborn baby.

According to UN estimates more than 125 million girls and women are living with female circumcision.

Women may be subjected to continuous surgeries especially in those cases where the vagina has been stitched to make it narrow as part of the circumcision process. Once the girls are married, the vagina is unstitched to have sexual intercourse. During childbirth, the vagina may need to be cut again to deliver the child and then stitched up again. This is a continuous problem and women should be spared from this pain and trauma.