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Female Genital Mutilation

What is Female Genital Mutilation?  

Female genital Mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. FGM is illegal in the UK. 


Types of FGM  

Female genital mutilation is classified into 4 major types. 

  • Type 1: this is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans (the external and visible part of the clitoris, which is a sensitive part of the female genitals), and/or the prepuce/ clitoral hood (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoral glans). 
  • Type 2:  this is the partial or total removal of the clitoral glans and the labia minora (the inner folds of the vulva), with or without removal of the labia majora (the outer folds of skin of the vulva ). 
  • Type 3: Also known as infibulation, this is the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The seal is formed by cutting and repositioning the labia minora, or labia majora, sometimes through stitching, with or without removal of the clitoral prepuce/clitoral hood and glans (Type I FGM). 
  • Type 4: This includes all other harmful procedures to the female genitalia for non-medical purposes, e.g. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area 

FGM is often performed by traditional circumcisers or cutters who do not have any medical training. However, in some countries it may be done by a medical professionals. 


There are no health benefits to FGM and it can cause serious harm, including: 

  • Excessive bleeding 
  • Fever 
  • Shock  
  • Bleeding, cysts and abscesses 
  • Issues with peeing or holding pee  
  • Psychological problems: depression, self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder  
  • Sexual problems ( difficulty having sex) 


Some girls die from blood loss or infection as a direct result of the procedure 

How to get help 

There is help available if you’ve had FGM or you’re worried that you or someone you know is at risk: 

  • If someone is in immediate danger, contact the police immediately by dialling 999. 
  • If you’re concerned that someone may be at risk, contact the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550 or  
  • If you’re under pressure to have FGM performed on your daughter, ask your GP, health visitor or other healthcare professional for help, or contact the NSPCC helpline. 
  • If you’ve had FGM, you can get help from a specialist NHS gynaecologist or FGM service – ask your GP, midwife or any other healthcare professional about services in your area. 
  • Download a list of NHS FGM clinics.