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Female genital mutilation (FGM)

Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a procedure where the female genitals are deliberately cut, injured or changed. The procedure is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and 15, before puberty begins, for various cultural, religious and social reasons within families and communities.

FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts. It is illegal in the UK and is child abuse. It is very painful and can seriously harm the health of women and girls and can also cause long-term problems with sex, childbirth and mental health.

FGM is often carried out against a girl’s will, usually to those whose close family female relatives have had the procedure done themselves.There is no medical reason for FGM to be undertaken.

There are 4 main types of FGM:

  • type 1 (clitoridectomy) – removing part or all of the clitoris
  • type 2 (excision) – removing part or all of the clitoris and the inner labia (the lips that surround the vagina), with or without removal of the labia majora (the larger outer lips)
  • type 3 (infibulation) – narrowing the vaginal opening by creating a seal, formed by cutting and repositioning the labia
  • other harmful procedures to the female genitals, including pricking, piercing, cutting, scraping or burning the area

To access up to date information on signs, symptoms and treatment guidance click on the links below:

Key links –

If you’re concerned that someone may be at risk, contact the NSPCC helpline on 0800 028 3550 or

Where to find National FGM support clinics: