Impact on female sexuality

There is a wide body of research on the impact of more severe forms of FGM on female sexual function. However the evidence on the effect of the varieties that predominate in Egypt (types I and II) is mixed. Here’s a summary:

  • Going back to the 1960s, a study of 331 circumcised Egyptian women found that just over 29% did not experience sexual satisfaction during intercourse  (Karim and Ammar, 1965).

  • In interviews with 250 women attending family planning centers in Egypt, 80% of circumcised women were more likely to report psychosexual difficulties, including reduced sexual activity, fewer orgasms and less enjoyment of sex (El-Defrawi, et al. 2001) than their uncircumcised peers.

  • A 2011 survey of 650 women in Cairo, half of whom were circumcised, found that their uncut peers had significantly higher scores in testing for desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction.

  • A 2012 study of 220 women, around 15% of whom had undergone type II FGM, found that these women reported less desire and lubrication, fewer orgasm, pain, and less satisfaction compared with the type I circumcised group or their uncircumcised peers.

  • A survey of 1000 married women in Egypt, more than 90% of whom were circumcised, found that almost 70% experienced some sort of sexual dysfunction, including pain on intercourse, decreased arousal and desire; however almost a quarter of the women with such problems said they were not distressed by it.  The most common aggravating factors cited by the women were marital disharmony and socio-economic pressures.

  • On the other hand, a hospital-based questionnaire of almost 150 women in Cairo with varying degrees of FGM, from uncircumcised to type IV, found that sexual desire and arousal, orgasm and sexual satisfaction were experienced by women with type I FGM, though such scores were impaired in those with type II and III FGM. (Thabet and Thabet 2003).

  • Yet another study of 41 circumcised women in rural Egypt found that the majority reported no impact on sexual relations with their husbands. (Khattab 1996).

  • In a 2012 study of more than 280 never-married undergraduates, half of whom were circumcised, around 20-25% said they had experienced orgasm—irrespective of whether they had been cut.