Consequences of female genital mutilation (FGM)

Those who undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) suffer consequences/complications. Sometimes, the complications are seen shortly after the female genital mutilation has been carried out – usually called the immediate or short-term complications/consequences. Other times, the complications are seen years after the procedure – called the long-term complications.

The complications that are experienced are physical, psychological and sexual.

Female genital mutilation DOES NOT HAVE ANY BENEFIT WHATSOEVER! Instead, it harms the female because it requires the removal of normal healthy parts of the girl’s/woman’s body – thereby disrupting some of the body’s normal functions.

The higher the type of female genital mutilation that is performed, the more severe the complications that the girl or woman experiences. In other words, a female who undergoes type III FGM will experience worse complications than a woman who undergoes type II or type I FGM. Also, a woman who undergoes type II FGM will undergo worse complications than one who undergoes type I FGM.

Short term consequences/complications of FGM:

  • Severe pain.
  • Infections (tetanus, septicaemia, HIV etc). There is an increased risk of being infected with HIV, especially where one tool is used to cut many girls or women.
    Instruments used to perform FGM
    [Source: Britannica]
    Ceremonial knives used for FGM by the Bondo society in Sierra Leone
    [Source: United Nations]






  • Swelling in the area of the genitals.
  • Ulcers in the genital area.
  • Problems with healing of the wound – it could be delayed.
  • Retaining urine – not being able to pass urine. Or difficulty passing urine.
  • Bleeding that is too much or excess.
  • Shock.
  • Death – which could happen as a result of extreme pain, bleeding or infection.
    A little girl undergoing female genital mutilation/cutting/circumcision [Source: The Nigerian Observer]

Long-term complications/consequences:

  • Painful sexual intercourse.
  • Little or no satisfaction from sexual intercourse.
  • Undergoing the procedure repeatedly – denfibulation and reinfibulation – because sometimes the vaginal opening is cut open/widened before or during sexual intercourse; and also before childbirth, after which it is stitched up again.
  • Infections of the urinary bladder and urinary tract that keep recurring.
  • Recurrent vaginal infections.
  • Difficulty passing blood during menstruation.
  • Very painful menstruation.
  • Excess formation of scar tissue or keloid.
  • Formation of cysts and abscesses.
  • Complications during childbirth (like excessive bleeding, tearing of the vagina and surrounding area, etc). It is also important to know that there is a higher risk of death of the newborn of a woman who has undergone FGM – this was shown by a study that was performed by WHO.
  • Formation of openings (called fistulae) between the vagina and urinary bladder (so that urine trickles out of the vagina uncontrolled). This could happen as a result of the FGM itself, or as a result of difficulty during childbirth that is caused by FGM.
  • Infertility.
  • Behavioural disturbances (loss of trust or confidence in caregivers).
  • Psychological consequences (depression, low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD], anxiety).

We can all see that female genital mutilation is a practice that should be eradicated!

Somso Kizor enjoys words. She loves reading good books and writing - amongst other things. Somso is passionate about educating people about their health; as this would reduce the burden of diseases and deaths (hence, suffering) all over the world. Let's not forget the popular saying that goes "health is wealth." For more details, send an email to