Female circumcision: obstetrical and psychological sequelae continues unabated in the 21st century

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2011 Jun;24(6):833-6. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2010.531318. Epub 2010 Dec 1.


Objectives: To assess the incidence of female circumcision/female genital cutting (FGC) among pregnant women and describe the obstetrical and psychological sequelae of female circumcision.

Method: Four thousand eight hundred pregnant women over a 4-year period were assessed for female circumcision. Odd ration (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated to measure association between female circumcision, maternal morbidity, and birth outcome. Variables included prolonged maternal hospitalization, low birth weight, prolonged labor, obstructed labor, cesarean section, and fetal outcome. Assessment measures to determine cognitive and emotional effects included the Mini international Neuro-psychiatric interview and Rey memory test.

Results: The prevalence of female circumcision was 38%; women who were circumcised were more likely have extended hospital stay. There was a positive association between such women and prolonged labor, cesarean section, post-partum hemorrhage, early neonatal death, and hepatitis C infection. Psychiatric sequelae included: 80% continued to have flashbacks to the FGC event; 58% had a psychiatric disorder (affective disorder); 38% had other anxiety disorders, and 30% had post-traumatic stress disorder.

Conclusion: Female circumcision is associated with adverse materno-fetal outcome and psychiatric sequelae. Many will need psychiatric as well as gynecological care.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data
  • Circumcision, Female / history
  • Circumcision, Female / psychology*
  • Circumcision, Female / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / epidemiology
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / epidemiology
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / etiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications / etiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*