Reconstructive surgery for women who suffered female genital mutilation seems to be successful in lessening pain and restoring sexual pleasure, with a new technique described in The Lancet.
"Our findings show that clitoral reconstruction after FGM is feasible. It can certainly improve women's pleasure and lessen their pain. It also allows mutilated women to recover their identity", said Pierre Foldès from Poissy Saint Germain Hospital, who invented the surgical technique.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a cultural practice, widespread in Africa, that partially or totally removes the external female genitalia, or otherwise causes injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is also commonly practiced among immigrant communities in Europe and North America.
In this study, 3,000 women in France received the reconstructive surgery between 2008 and 2009, during which 5% experienced complications such as haematoma, suture failure, or moderate fever immediately following surgery.
Of 866 women who responded to a follow-up survey conducted a year later, 821 reported that their pain had either improved or had not worsened, while 815 reported that clitoral pleasure had improved or had not worsened. Additionally, 290 women reported that their pain had eased substantially.
Among women who had never experienced an orgasm before the procedure, a third started to have restricted or regular orgasms. Half the women who reported experiencing restricted orgasm before the surgery had a regular orgasm after it.
About 5% of the respondents said they suffered side effects such as bleeding; 2% had less clitoral pleasure than before the procedure.
Over the past 10 years, up to 140 million women worldwide have been subject to FGM. The surgeries in the study were performed in France, but Foldès said surgeons in Dakar, Senegal, will be trained in the technique.