Summary: Female genital mutilation, also known as ‘female genital cutting’, ‘female genital mutilation/cutting’ or ‘cutting’, refers to ‘all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons’. FGM is practised for a variety of complex reasons, usually in the belief that it is beneficial for the girl. It has no health benefits and harms girls and women in many ways. FGM is a human rights violation and a form of child abuse, breaching the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is a severe form of violence against women and girls.
The purpose of this guideline is to provide evidence-based guidance on the management of women with female genital mutilation (FGM) and those who are considered to be at risk. It covers the clinical care of women before, during and after pregnancy, including the legal and regulatory responsibilities of health professionals. The focus of this guideline is on practice in the UK. Although much of the content is applicable to all four constituent countries, the regulatory framework in Scotland and Northern Ireland differs to that described here.
For a global perspective on FGM, further information is available from other sources.
COVID disclaimer: This guideline was developed as part of the regular programme of Green-top Guidelines, as outlined in our document Developing a Green-top Guideline: Guidance for developers (PDF), and prior to the emergence of COVID-19.
Version history: This is the second edition of this guideline.
The RCOG is supportive of further research into the role of reconstructive surgery for women affected by FGM. The RCOG Guidelines Committee reviewed this guideline in September 2023 and a partial update of the guideline is now under development.
Developer declaration of interests:
Dr NM Low-Beer: None declared.
Professor SM Creighton: Professor Creighton is a founder member of the Female Genital Mutilation Clinical Group. She is a member of the RCOG FGM Task Force. She has provided ad hoc, unpaid clinical and strategic advice on FGM to the Department of Health, Home Office, Director of Public Prosecutions, Health Education England, NHS London and NHS England.