Awareness and recognition of the variability in the practice and therefore consequences of female genital cutting is essential to ensure sensitive and nonjudgmental care is provided, as well as the appropriate referral of patients with long-term complications.
It is also likely that GPs will be increasingly asked to provide advice or to refer women requesting genital cosmetic surgery. GPs are well placed to allay women’s anxiety about the appearance of their labia to prevent unnecessary surgical intervention in those with normal genitalia.
Female genital mutilation, also referred to as female genital cutting (FGC), refers to the practice of partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for nonmedical reasons. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that between 100 and 140 million girls and women have undergone FGC and are living with its consequences. FGC is culturally based and is practised by people from a number of religious backgrounds. FGC is not practised universally by any religious group. High prevalence countries include those in western, eastern and northeast Africa, as well as some Asian and middle eastern countries.