Defibulation to Treat Female Genital Cutting: Effect on Symptoms and Sexual Function

Nour, Nawal M. MD, MPH1; Michels, Karin B. ScD, MSc2; Bryant, Ann E. MD, MPH3

Obstetrics & Gynecology:
doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000224613.72892.77
Original Research
Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Women who have undergone type III female genital cutting may suffer long-term complications. Defibulation (reconstructive surgery of the infibulated scar) can alleviate some of these complications. We studied the physical and sexual outcomes after defibulation and evaluated both patient and husband satisfaction.

METHODS: The medical records of 40 consecutive women with a history of type III female genital cutting who underwent defibulation between 1995 and 2003 were reviewed. Data collected included demographics, indications for the procedure, closure type, intraoperative and postoperative complications. Telephone surveys were conducted between 6 months and 2 years postprocedure to evaluate the long-term health and sexual satisfaction outcomes.

RESULTS: Of 40 women identified as having undergone defibulation, 95% were Somali, 65% were married, and 73% were between the ages of 19 and 30. Primary indications for defibulation were being pregnant (30%), dysmenorrhea (30%), apareunia (20%), and dyspareunia (15%). Secondary indications were apareunia (20%), difficulty urinating (12.5%), and dyspareunia (10%). Sixty-five percent had a subcuticular repair. Forty-eight percent had an intact clitoris buried beneath the scar. None had intraoperative or postoperative complications. Of the 32 patients reached by telephone, 94% stated they would highly recommend it to others. One hundred percent of patients and their husbands were satisfied with the results, felt their appearance had improved, and were sexually satisfied.

CONCLUSION: Defibulation is recommended for all infibulated women who suffer long-term complications. The complication rates are minimal, with high satisfaction rates among patients and their husbands.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II-3

In Brief

Defibulation, a safe procedure with high patient and husband satisfaction rates, is recommended for all infibulated women who suffer long-term complications.

Author Information

From the 1Department of 2Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; and 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.

Corresponding author: Nawal M. Nour, Director, African Women’s Health Center, Department of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA 02115; e-mail nnour@partners.org.

© 2006 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists