Female genital mutilation is the medically unnecessary modification of female genitalia. Female genital mutilation typically occurs at about 7 years of age, but mutilated women suffer severe medical complications throughout their adult lives. Female genital mutilation most frequently occurs in Africa, the Middle East, and Muslim parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, and it is generally part of a ceremonial induction into adult society. Recent political and economic problems in these regions, however, have increased the numbers of students and refugees to the United States. Consequently, US physicians are treating an increasing number of mutilated patients. The Council on Scientific Affairs recommends that US physicians join the World Health Organization, the World Medical Association, and other major health care organizations in opposing all forms of medically unnecessary surgical modification of the female genitalia.