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Experts say genital mutilation has multiple effects on health, sexuality


LAGOS – Some health experts on Friday advised against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), saying it could have adverse effects on the female health and sexuality.
The experts told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews in Lagos that FGM was a form of violence on the woman’s body, sexuality and psyche.
Dr Oliver Ezechi, a gynaecologist at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), defined female genital mutilation or circumcision as any cut or manipulation of female genitalia that is not for medical purpose.
He said that infertility could occur as a result of infection contracted during female circumcision.
According to him, the act was usually done with unsterilised equipment that was used for more than one person in remote places.
“These infections can spread into the uterus and into the fallopian tube and it could block the fallopian tubes later in life, and the girl-child will find it difficult to have babies.
“With infertility caused by such infections, they can only get pregnant through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).
“The circumcised child may even have problems of what we call `hidden menstruation’, and because the place is already blocked or closed, the bleeding will not flow as it should,” he said.
Ezechi said that the effects of female genital mutilation could cause pain to the women during labour and child delivery.
He said that the vagina and vulva were made of soft tissues to reduce injury during delivery, as they expand for the baby’s head to pass through.
“The scarred tissues can cause tear during child birth, with a lot of bleeding. Some of the tears might even go into the rectum.
“When this happens, you have to suture them and the woman may have what we call rectorvaginal fistula, also called obstructed labour,” he said.
Ezechi said that FGM was still common in Nigeria, especially in the southern part, saying that even educated parents still carry out this act on their children using modified methods.
“We might not be doing the very worse types, like the one they have in Sudan and Ethiopia, where they cut and suture the genitals.
“What most people do now instead of cutting, they use their thumb to gradually press in the baby`s clitoris to blunt it because at that time the child’s cells are very fragile,” he said.
In the same vein, Dr Taiwo Oguntoyin, a public health officer, said that FGM or circumcision predisposes the woman to contracting HIV/AIDS.
“Circumcision makes the vagina heal with scar tissues which can make the vagina area tighter and inelastic.
“During sex, the woman is likely to sustain injuries which can predispose her to HIV and other infections,’’ she said.
Oguntoyin said that FGM and the absence of the full clitoris could cause painful sex and disharmony in marriage.
Dr Etta Adenekan, a psychologist and women’s rights activist, said that the process of FGM put the female through psychological pain and trauma.
“Apart from the physical pain, the baby or woman experiences psychological pain as a result of the severe pain.
“It is even more painful for a full grown female. There are lots of unaccounted deaths arising from FGM or circumcision,’’ she said.
Adenekan, however, advised mothers to stop the act of FGM as there are many health implications which could affect the girl-child later in life.
She also called on the government and medical practitioners to educate and sensitise the public on the dangers of FGM.
“We should all rise and say `No to FGM’. From the infection, infertility, HIV infections to marital disharmony and sexual dissatisfaction, the effects are quite devastating,” she said. (NAN)

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