What to Do for Health Problems 463
Problems with monthly bleeding
If the vaginal hole that is left after infibulation is too small, or if it
is blocked by scarring inside the body, the flow of a girl’s monthly
bleeding can be blocked. This can cause:
• very painful monthly bleeding.
• long monthly bleeding, lasting 10 to 15 days.
• no monthly bleeding because the vaginal opening
is blocked and the blood cannot get out.
• trapped blood that can lead to serious pelvic inflammatory
disease (PID) and scarring in the womb and tubes. This can
What to do:
• Apply a towel soaked in hot water to the lower abdomen to
relieve pain. (Be careful not to burn the skin.)
• It may help to walk around and do light work or exercise.
If the problems are severe, the vaginal opening may need to be
made larger. This should be done by a skilled health worker to
prevent harm to the reproductive parts inside.
Problems with sexual relations
and sexual health
If a woman who has had her genitals cut has none of
the health problems described in this chapter, she may
be able to enjoy sex. But many women who have
been cut, especially those who have been infibulated,
find sex difficult.
In some communities, young women have their
genitals cut and are married on the same day. Or
a woman who has had her genitals cut at a young
age may have her vaginal opening made larger just
before first sex in marriage. If she is expected to have
sex before the wound has healed, sex will be very painful and
dangerous, and the wound may take longer to heal. Open wounds
also increase her risk of catching HIV or sexually transmitted
During sex, a woman may find it difficult to become aroused,
since the clitoris has been cut off.
➤ All wounds must
be completely healed
before having sex.
If you live where infibulation is practiced, help men to understand that the vaginal
opening should be safely and gently made larger. Opening should be done long before
the first time a woman has sex, to allow time for complete healing. Opening should be
done by a health worker who uses properly cleaned cutting tools, and who cares for
the wound afterward to prevent infection.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012