Effect of female genital mutilation on mental health: a case-control study

Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2020 Feb;25(1):33-36. doi: 10.1080/13625187.2019.1709815. Epub 2020 Jan 10.


Objectives: The study aimed to investigate the mental health status of women with female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and compare it with that of a similar group of women without FGM/C.Methods: A case-control study was carried out in 2018 among 122 women with FGM/C and 125 women without FGM/C who had been referred to one of the general health service centres in Kermanshah Province, western Iran. The 28 item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) was used to collect data on participants' mental health. A multivariate logistic model with odds ratios (ORs) was used to determine the relationship of independent variables with the outcome variable, mental health status.Results: The mean age of the FGM/C and control groups was 35.7 (standard deviation [SD] 8.6) and 31.3 (SD 7.2) years, respectively. According to the GHQ-28 questionnaire, 65.6% (n = 80) of the FGM/C group and 52% (n = 65) of the control group had symptoms of a mental health disorder; the difference between the groups was statistically significant (p = .03). The prevalence of severe depression in the FGM/C group was significantly higher than in the control group (p = .021). Multivariate logistic regression showed that having a history of FGM/C (adjusted OR 1.79; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.05, 3.05) and being in employment (adjusted OR 3.46; 95% CI 1.23, 9.74) had a significant effect on presentation with symptoms of a mental health disorder (p < .05).Conclusion: Women who suffer from FGM/C are more vulnerable to mental health disorders such as depression.

Keywords: Female genital mutilation; Iran; mental health; women's health.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Circumcision, Female / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult