Frequently asked questions and answers

There is often a lot of uncertainty around the topic of female genital circumcision. Women and girls who undergone it and their families often have lots of questions. We have answers to some of these questions for you. If you have more questions, then we are happy to help you – by telephone, email or in person at the Ambulatorium Kanonengasse outpatients clinic in Zurich.

In my home country circumcision is part of our culture and has a long tradition. Why should that suddenly change?

Culture and traditions are hugely important for communities. But they can also change over time. In addition to this, culture and tradition should not be the reasons for violence and physical injuries. In the case of female genital circumcision, girls’ and women’s right to physical and emotional wellbeing takes precedence. Stopping FGM/C can protect girls and women against serious, permanent, fully unnecessary harm. It is also absolutely possible to stop damaging practices without giving important elements of your culture. Even in countries where FGM/C is widespread, support for genital circumcision is steadily declining. An increasing number of religious leaders are also speaking out in favour of ending the practice.

No-one around me wants to talk about FGM/C. Where can I find someone to share experiences with?

At FGMhelp we work very closely with multipliers. They have very close links to individual communities and speak the same language as girls and women who are affected. We are happy to set up a contact.

I am married to a circumcised woman. What must I be aware of?

Your wife may suffer from physical and mental health consequences and may also experience pain during sexual intercourse. Treat her considerately. If you have any questions, the Canton of Zurich’s relevant specialist units can help you. Advice is free – we are happy to refer you.

I am afraid that a girl could be circumcised. How can I help her?

Get in touch with us – we can set up contact a multiplier who is active in the relevant community and has contacts in the home countries, such as Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia or Sudan.

Do circumcised women have to have C sections?

Giving birth to a child is usually more painful and difficult for women who are circumcised than for uncircumcised women. However, a natural birth is possible after all types of circumcision. If you have undergone infibulation (Type III FGM/C, where the vaginal opening is almost completely sewn shut), then the tissue which has been sewn together must be surgically removed before or during the birth.

Can I still get pregnant even if I am circumcised?

Even if you have suffered FGM/C you can still get pregnant. However, women who have undergone genital circumcision often experience severe pain during sexual intercourse and childbirth. There are a number of midwives, female gynaecologists and hospitals in the Canton of Zurich who have experience with helping circumcised women give birth and can help you. We would be happy to refer you to the relevant specialist personnel.

Can circumcision be reversed?

Genital circumcision of girls and women cannot be reversed. In some cases, medical treatment of problems or complications caused by FGM/C is, however, possible. In the case of infibulation (Type III FGM/C, during which the vaginal opening is almost completely sewn shut) it may be possible to surgically remove scar tissue. This procedure is known as defibulation. Such treatment can reduce pain during menstruation, urination, sexual intercourse and births.

I don’t know if I’ve been circumcised. How can I find out?

Girls or women who were circumcised at a young age often have no conscious memories of the procedure. In addition to this, female circumcision is a taboo topic and women are often unable to ask their mothers or other relatives. If you would like a definite answer to your question, your best option is to go to a specialist female gynaecologist.

Affected or at risk? We will support you.

You are welcome to get in touch with our contact point to discuss any questions relating to female genital mutilation. We are here for you.

The Canton of Zurich’s
contact point for
female genital mutilation

Ambulatorium Kanonengasse outpatients clinic
Kanonengasse 18
8004 Zürich