Female Genital Cutting

Female Genital Cutting refers to the culturally determined practice of ritually cutting a female's external genitals. It is estimated to have affected over 130 million women and girls worldwide. Because of recent immigration patterns, providers of women's health care, and in particular obstetrician-gynecologists, have increasingly encountered patients who have undergone Female Genital Cutting. For most obstetrician-gynecologists, Female Genital Cutting is an unfamiliar and foreign cultural practice that evokes visceral responses. Despite such reactions, however, it is incumbent upon us to develop an understanding of this practice in order to provide optimal and compassionate care to affected women.

To that end, ACOG has undertaken the following activities:

In 1995, the Committee on Gynecologic Practice and the Committee on International Affairs published jointly a Committee Opinion on this topic.  This Committee Opinion was incorporated in Guidelines for Women's Health Care. ACOG Members may access the book by clicking Patient Care and going to page(s) 242-246.  Non Members may purchase the book by clicking Guidelines for Women's Health Care, Third Edition.

A task force of experts was convened to develop an educational tool that includes information and training materials on the medical and surgical treatment of women who have experienced Female Genital Cutting. The resulting slide lecture kit, Female Circumcision/Female Genital Mutilation: Clinical Management of Circumcised Women, published in 1999, was distributed to residency education programs in the United States and Canada. In addition, 300 copies of this resource were sold to the Bureau of Primary Health Care within the Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, for distribution to select Community Health Centers. A revision was published in 2008. Furthermore, the recommendations put forth in this publication were adopted as the official policy of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. The revision is available through ACOG's Resources Catalogue at Female Genital Cutting: Clinical Management of Circumcised Women, Second Edition.

Clinical Seminar on Female Genital Cutting was conducted at the 1999 Annual Clinical Meeting in Philadelphia.

The Department of Health Care for Underserved Women also purchased from the Research, Action & Information Network for Bodily Integrity of Women (RAINBO) 39,000 Quick Reference Cards. This laminated card depicts the three most common types of Female Genital Cutting and the steps to a basic deinfibulation (opening of the closed vagina). Complimentary copies were distributed to all ACOG members.

Contact:

Alicia Luchowski, MPH
Director
Health Care for Underserved Women/ LARC Program
aluchowski@acog.org