A survey of honor-related practices among US obstetricians and gynecologists

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2017 Nov;139(2):164-169. doi: 10.1002/ijgo.12294. Epub 2017 Aug 31.


Objective: To assess patterns of honor-related practices-including virginity testing, virginity restoration, and female genital mutilation (FGM)-among US obstetrician-gynecologists (OBGYNs).

Methods: Between June 1 and August 31, 2016, 1000 members of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists were invited by email to complete an anonymous online survey. The survey comprised 42 questions evaluating the demographic and practice characteristics of the respondents.

Results: Overall, 288 of the 909 practicing US OBGYNs with functioning email addresses completed the survey (31.7% response rate). In the 12 months before the survey, 168 (58.3%) respondents had provided care to one or more patients who had previously undergone FGM. Care was also provided for patients who requested virginity testing or virginity restoration by 29 (10.1%) and 16 (5.6%) respondents, respectively. Ten (3.5%) respondents performed virginity testing on request, whereas 3 (1.0%) performed virginity restoration.

Conclusion: Some respondents performed honor-related practices, which indicated a need to educate all practicing US OBGYNs about their ethical and legal obligations in the care of such patients.

Keywords: Cosmetic genital surgery; Ethics; Female genital mutilation; Obstetrician and gynecologist; Survey; USA; Virginity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Circumcision, Female / ethics
  • Circumcision, Female / ethnology
  • Circumcision, Female / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Female
  • Gynecology*
  • Humans
  • Hymen*
  • Male
  • Obstetrics*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Young Adult