The obstetric consequences of female genital mutilation/cutting: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Obstet Gynecol Int. 2013;2013:496564. doi: 10.1155/2013/496564. Epub 2013 Jun 26.


Various forms of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) have been performed for millennia and continue to be prevalent in parts of Africa. Although the health consequences following FGM/C have been broadly investigated, divergent study results have called into question whether FGM/C is associated with obstetric consequences. To clarify the present state of empirical research, we conducted a systematic review of the scientific literature and quantitative meta-analyses of the obstetric consequences of FGM/C. We included 44 primary studies, of which 28 were comparative, involving almost 3 million participants. The methodological study quality was generally low, but several studies reported the same outcome and were sufficiently similar to warrant pooling of effect sizes in meta-analyses. The meta-analyses results showed that prolonged labor, obstetric lacerations, instrumental delivery, obstetric hemorrhage, and difficult delivery are markedly associated with FGM/C, indicating that FGM/C is a factor in their occurrence and significantly increases the risk of delivery complications. There was no significant difference in risk with respect to cesarean section and episiotomy. These results can make up the background documentation for health promotion and health care decisions that inform work to reduce the prevalence of FGM/C and improve the quality of services related to the consequences of FGM/C.