The Consequences of Female Genital Mutilation on Psycho-Social Well-Being: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research

Qual Health Res. 2021 Jul;31(9):1738-1750. doi: 10.1177/10497323211001862. Epub 2021 Jun 8.


The health consequences of female genital mutilation (FGM) have been described previously; however, evidence of the social consequences is more intangible. To date, few systematic reviews have addressed the impact of the practice on psycho-social well-being, and there is limited understanding of what these consequences might consist. To complement knowledge on the known health consequences, this article systematically reviewed qualitative evidence of the psycho-social impact of FGM in countries where it is originally practiced (Africa, the Middle East, and Asia) and in countries of the diaspora. Twenty-three qualitative studies describing the psycho-social impact of FGM on women's lives were selected after screening. This review provides a framework for understanding the less visible ways in which women and girls with FGM experience adverse effects that may affect their sense of identity, their self-esteem, and well-being as well as their participation in society.

Keywords: FGC; FGM; Female Genital Cutting; female genital mutilation; health-seeking behavior; marriageability; psycho-social well-being; qualitative data synthesis; stigma; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Circumcision, Female* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research