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FGM complications

Immediate and short term complications

  • Severe pain during the procedure and healing
  • Shock can be caused by pain and/or haemorrhage
  • Excessive bleeding (haemorrhage) and septic shock have been documented
  • Difficulty in passing urine, and also passing of faeces, can occur due to swelling, oedema and pain
  • Infections may spread after the use of contaminated instruments and during the healing period
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) due to the use of the same surgical instrument without sterilization
  • Death can be caused by haemorrhage or infections, including tetanus and shock
  • Psychological consequences due to the pain, shock and the use of physical force by those performing the procedure
  • Unintended labia fusion following Type 2 FGM

 Long-term complications

  • Chronic pain due to trapped or unprotected nerve endings
  • Infections particularly of the reproductive and urinary tracts
  • Keloid which is excessive scar tissue formed at the site of the cutting
  • Increased risk of HIV infection and transmission in adulthood  due to an increased risk for bleeding during intercourse
  • Impaired quality of sexual life due to reduced sexual sensitivity, pain during sex, scar formation, and pain and traumatic memories associated with the procedure
  • Menstrual problems
  • Birth complications such as prolonged labour, recourse to caesarean section, postpartum haemorrhage, tearing and recourse to episiotomies
  • Danger to the new-born with higher death rates and reduced Apgar scores
  • Psychological consequences such as fear of sexual intercourse, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and memory loss