Long-term consequences of female genital mutilation in a European context: self perceived health of FGM women compared to non-FGM women

Soc Sci Med. 2014 Apr:106:177-84. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.02.003. Epub 2014 Feb 6.


Female genital mutilation (FGM) concerns an estimated half a million women in Europe. The studies based in countries where migrant women have settled highlight the need for more accurate information on FGM health consequences, in a European health care context. Excision and Handicap (ExH) is a multi-centric survey based on case-control methodology and conducted in France to assess the long-term consequences of FGM, sampling both FGM and non-FGM adult women. The interviews were conducted in 74 mother-and-child health centres and hospital departments providing gynaecological and family planning services in five French regions. The two groups were compared on health indicators (self-perceived health, illnesses, symptoms) and functioning indicators (daily, sexual and reproductive life) for cases (n = 678) and controls (n = 1706). Multivariate logistic models highlighted FGM-related health problems. Among women living in France, FGM was significantly associated with poor health indicators: gynaecological and urinary infections (OR = 2.0), sleep disorders (OR = 1.4), intense pain (OR = 1.5), difficulties in daily life (OR = 1.5) and in sexual life (OR = 1.7) or tearing during childbirth (OR = 1.6). Our results suggest that, even in a favourable healthcare context, FGM exposes women to long-term health problems, including in areas neglected in previous research. They confirm the need to establish recommendations to help physicians understand these women's needs.

Keywords: Disability; Female genital cutting; France; Migrant women; Sexual health.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Circumcision, Female*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation*
  • Female
  • France
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Qualitative Research
  • Time Factors