Female Genital Mutilation and Pregnancy: Health Issues You Need to Know

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Some of the health issues associated with Female Genital Mutilation includes severe pain, excessive bleeding, genital tissue swelling, Fever, Infections, Urinary problems with painful urination, urinary tract infections, etc.

Female Genital Mutilation has no health benefits for girls and women. It is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15. And ofcourse, this is a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and discrimination againt women.

Along with this it also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman treatment and the right to life when it results in death. More than 3 million girls are estimated to be at risk for fgm annually.

What is Female Genital Mutilation?

Talking about what female genital mutilation ? It is an act that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for no medical reasons. The ritual of cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia is known as female genital mutilation (fgm), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision. It comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non mecial purposes.

This is mostly found in africa, asia and the middle east. Also this is done by traditional circumcisers, who often play other central roles in communities such as attending childbirths. It is done from days after birth to puberty and beyond carried out by using blade without any form of anaesthesia or analgesia. It causes severe bleeding and problems as well as complications in pregnancy, childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.

Health Impacts of Female Genital Mutilation in Pregnancy(FGM)

Female Genital Mutilation

Types of Female Genital Mutilation

Female genital mutilation is classified into 4 types-

Type 1– clitoridectomy is the removal of the clitoris (sensitive part of the female genitals).

Type 2– excision is the removal of the clitoris and the labia minora (inner folds of the vulva).

Type 3– infibulation is the removal all woman’s external genitalia and the narrowing of the vaginal entrance.

Type 4– this includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes like pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area.

Why is Female Genital Mutilation done?

For improving health and well-being as well as to allow intercourse or to facilitate childbirth a practice is performed of cutting open the sealed vaginal opening in a women who has been infibulated called as deinfibulation.

It is done because-

  • Controls female sexuality
  • Religion
  • Social obligation
  • Economic factors
  • Aesthetics

Health Impacts of Female Genital Mutilation in Pregnancy(FGM)

Fmg has no health benefits and it only harms girls and women in many ways. It impacts physical health,sexual health and psychological health of a female It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue. Complications include-

  • Severe pain
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Genital tissue swelling
  • Fever
  • Infections
  • Urinary problems with painful urination and urinary tract infections
  • Wound healing problems
  • Injury to surrounding genital tissue
  • Shock
  • Hiv
  • Infertility
  • Cysta and abscesses
  • Keloids
  • Vaginal problems with discharge, itching, bacterial vaginosis and other infections
  • Menstural problems with painful mensturations, difficlulty in passing menstural blood
  • Sexual problems with pain during intercourse and decreased satisfaction
  • Physiological problems with depression, anxiety, stress
  • Childbirth problems with difficult delivery, excessive bleeding, caesarean section, need to resuscitate the baby
  • Increased risk of newborn deaths
  • Surgeries

and sometimes leading to death.

According to the study, fgm was associated with an increased risk to the mother of damage to the perineum and excessive blood loss as well as a need to resuscitate the baby and stillbirth perhaps because of a long second stage of labour.

The WHO estimated in 2006 that an additional 10–20 babies die per 1,000 deliveries as a result of fgm. Fgm may place women at higher risk of problems during pregnancy and childbirth. 5 health issues are-

Infection

Fgm has been implicated in long term infections including chronic genital abscesses, vaginal infections and blood borne infections such as hiv and hepatitis b. It also include urinary tract infections, genitourinary tract infections, abscess formtion and septicaemia. Type 3 is more prone to infections. Infection of hepatitis b,c and hiv is transmitted by the use of unsterile and shared instruments.

Genital scarring

It includes nicking of the clitoris, burning or scarring the genitals and introducing substances into the vagina to tighten it. It is common in which tissue is removed and results in immediate complication. Painful and unsightly scarring due to keloid has been seen. Cycts over the clitoral area can obstruct the vagina and cause pain. This may require surgical excision.

Menstural difficulties

Painful and prolonged periods have been attributed to fgm. It is possible that a very narrow vaginal opening might slow down menstural flow and haematocolpos can occur.

Urinary symptoms

Damage to the urethra during fgm may lead to fistula and urethral strictures. Poor urinary flow and recurrent urinary tract infections have seen and occur due to obstruction of the urethral opening by scar tissue sealing the vagina. It can be relieved by deinfibulation where the scar tissue is incised.  In women with fistulae, it is difficult to obtain clear urine samples as part of prenatal care, making the diagnosis of conditions such as pre-eclampsia harder. Cervical evaluation during labour may be impeded and labour prolonged or obstructed. Anal-sphincter damage and emergency caesarean section are more common in infibulated women.

Infertility

Fgm leads to infertility. Difficult or painful intercourse because tha vagina is infibulated occur. In addition, it will seen that a number of intrapartum risks caused by fgm and the role of deinfibulation in pregnancy. It is important that health care personnel are aware of and look for possible complications from fgm, and encourage girls and women to seek medical care for their problems.

Conclusion

Female genital mutilation (fgm) is a traditional practice that has no medical benefit and severe health consequences for girls and women.the practice is most common in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of africa, in some countries the middle east and asia as well as among migrants from these areas. Fgm is therefore a global concern. Some women with fgm may find it difficult to become pregnant and those who do conceive can have problems in childbirth and increases the risk of preterm labour and delivery.

During pregnancy there are certain physiological changes which occur and make women with fgm more prone to complications. Proper diagnosis and treatment should be provided. Therefore, there can be link found between fgm and pregnancy.

Hope this article was of help to you! Please share your comments/queries/tips with us and help us create a world full of Happy, Healthy and Empowered Women!!

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