What Is Female Circumcision?

You know what male circumcision is, but what is female circumcision? Male circumcisions are typically performed immediately or shortly after a newborn boy’s birth and consists of removing the foreskin from the penis. This practice originated as a Jewish religious practice and is now widely accepted as a healthy practice to prevent many penile diseases among men. Female circumcision also originates as a religious practice.

Aliases. In the United States, the practice of female circumcision goes by various other referencing names. Names also used to describe a female circumcision include female genital cutting, cutting and female genital mutilation (FGM).

Origins. For a millennia, North African tribes and communities have practiced female circumcision traditionally on female minors, typically under the age of puberty. Evidence of this practice also presents in countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Algeria.

Procedure. The practice of female circumcision involves the full or partial removal of a woman’s clitoris, exterior vaginal lips and narrowing of the vaginal cavity. Because the clitoris contains numerous nerve endings and causes sexual arousal, the clit is completely or partially removed as a means of preventing sexual arousal in women. Other methods of female circumcision are intended to prevent all sexual activity or at least to decrease sexual desires. In less civilized areas, midwives may conduct this procedure, though the World Health Organization reports an increase in health care provider conducted procedures.

Health Concerns. Unlike male circumcision, female circumcision does not provide any health benefits, only pain. Performed outside of a medical office, female circumcision may result in dangerous infections and death. In scenarios where it does not prove life-threatening, female circumcision may cause women to fear and feel no satisfaction from healthy sexual experiences later in life.