Current Sexual Health Reports

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 7–17 | Cite as

Genital Autonomy and Sexual Well-being

  • Brian D. Earp
  • Rebecca Steinfeld
Sociocultural Issues and Epidemiology (J Abdulcadir and C Johnson-Agbakwu, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sociocultural Issues and Epidemiology


Purpose of Review

The purpose of this study is to survey recent arguments in favor of preserving the genital autonomy of children—female, male, and intersex—by protecting them from medically unnecessary genital cutting practices.

Recent Findings

Nontherapeutic female, male, and intersex genital cutting practices each fall on a wide spectrum, with far more in common than is generally understood. When looking across cultures and comparing like cases, one finds physical, psychosexual, and symbolic overlaps among the three types of cutting, suggesting that a shared ethical framework is needed.


All children have an interest in genital autonomy, regardless of their sex or gender.


Genital autonomy Circumcision FGM Intersex Sexual health Bodily integrity 



The authors would like to thank the editors of this collection for inviting them to contribute and Professor Robert Van Howe, M.D., and Professor Elizabeth Reis for feedback on an earlier draft.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yale-Hastings Program in Ethics and Health PolicyYale University and The Hastings CenterNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre of the Body, GoldsmithsUniversity of LondonLondonEngland

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