Female genital mutilation and infections: a systematic review of the clinical evidence



Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a common practice especially performed in women with no anaesthesia or antibiotics and in absence of aseptic conditions. The aim of this systematic review is to explore and analyze for first time in the current literature, the clinical evidence related to the presence of infections in the practice of FGM.


A systematic search of PubMed and Scopus was performed. A combination of the terms “female circumcision”, “genital mutilation”, “genital cutting” and “infection” were used. Studies reporting data on the infections related to patients with FGM were included.


A total of 22,052 patients included, in the study, from African countries. The age ranged from 10 days to 20 years. The procedure was done by physicians, paramedical staff, and other specialties. Type I FGM was performed in 3,115 women while 5,894, 4,049 and 93 women underwent Type II, Type III and unknown type of FGM, respectively. Different types of infections were identified including UTIs, genitourinary tract infections, abscess formation and septicemia or even HIV infection. Moreover, most infections were identified in Type III FGM. The isolated pathogens in the different type of infections, were HIV, Clostridium tetani, Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Treponema pallidum, Candida albicans, Trichomonas vaginalis, HSV-2, Pseudomonas pyocyanea, Staphylococcus aureus. The univariate risk of infection ranged from 0.47 to 5.2.


A variety of infections can occur after FGM. The management of these complications in a low-income economy can be a great burden for the families.

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Iavazzo, C., Sardi, T.A. & Gkegkes, I.D. Female genital mutilation and infections: a systematic review of the clinical evidence. Arch Gynecol Obstet 287, 1137–1149 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00404-012-2708-5

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  • Female circumcision
  • Mutilation
  • Genital cutting
  • Infection