A multidisciplinary approach to clitoral reconstruction after female genital mutilation: the crucial role of counselling

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Objectives: Female genital mutilation (FGM) is becoming more widely seen in the West, due to immigration and population movement. Health services are being confronted with the need to provide care for women with FGM. One of the more recent trends is the provision of clitoral reconstruction. It remains unclear, however, what constitutes good practice with regard to this type of surgery. Methods: Based on a keynote presentation about reconstructive clitoral surgery, we briefly discuss the possible consequences of FGM and the findings from recent publications on clitoral reconstruction. Recognising individual differences in women, we suggest a multidisciplinary counselling model to provide appropriate care for women requesting clitoral reconstruction. Results: The literature shows that FGM influences physical, mental and sexual health. Clitoral reconstructive, surgery can lead to an increase in sexual satisfaction and orgasm in some, but not all, women. A multidisciplinary approach would enable a more satisfactory and individually tailored approach to care. The multidisciplinary team should consist of a midwife, a gynaecological surgeon, a psychologist-psychotherapist, a sexologist and a social worker. Comprehensive health counselling should be the common thread in this model of care. Our proposed care pathway starts with taking a thorough history, followed by medical, psychological and sexological consultations. Conclusions: Women with FGM requesting clitoral reconstruction might primarily be looking to improve their sexual life, to recover their identity and to reduce pain. Surgery may not always be the right answer. Thorough counselling that includes medical, psychological and sexual advice is therefore necessary as part of a multidisciplinary approach.

Authors & affiliation: 
De Schrijver L1, Leye E1,2, Merckx M3. 1a International Centre for Reproductive Health , Ghent University , Ghent , Belgium ; 2b RHEA, Centre of Expertise on Gender, Diversity and Intersectionality , Vrije Universiteit Brussel , Brussels , Belgium ; 3c Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology , Ghent University Hospital , Ghent , Belgium.
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Published In: 
Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2016 Apr 25:1-7.
Publication date: 
Monday, April 25, 2016