Health consequences of female genital mutilation/cutting in the Gambia, evidence into action

Reprod Health. 2011 Oct 3;8:26. doi: 10.1186/1742-4755-8-26.


Background: Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) is a harmful traditional practice with severe health complications, deeply rooted in many Sub-Saharan African countries. In The Gambia, the prevalence of FGM/C is 78.3% in women aged between 15 and 49 years. The objective of this study is to perform a first evaluation of the magnitude of the health consequences of FGM/C in The Gambia.

Methods: Data were collected on types of FGM/C and health consequences of each type of FGM/C from 871 female patients who consulted for any problem requiring a medical gynaecologic examination and who had undergone FGM/C in The Gambia.

Results: The prevalence of patients with different types of FGM/C were: type I, 66.2%; type II, 26.3%; and type III, 7.5%. Complications due to FGM/C were found in 299 of the 871 patients (34.3%). Even type I, the form of FGM/C of least anatomical extent, presented complications in 1 of 5 girls and women examined.

Conclusion: This study shows that FGM/C is still practiced in all the six regions of The Gambia, the most common form being type I, followed by type II. All forms of FGM/C, including type I, produce significantly high percentages of complications, especially infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia / etiology
  • Circumcision, Female / adverse effects*
  • Circumcision, Female / methods
  • Circumcision, Female / statistics & numerical data
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Gambia
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infections / etiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Young Adult