Objective To outline the problems associated with female genital mutilation and to highlight the need for deinfibulation before delivery.
Design A review of women attending a newly established African Well Woman Clinic. Age at infibulation, gravidity of clinic attenders and adequacy of introitus for management of labour were assessed.
Setting Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, Middlesex.
Subjects Fifty women attending a newly established African Well Woman Clinic, of whom 13 were nulliparous, 14 were primigravid and 23 were multigravid.
Results The average age at which infibulation had occurred was 6–7 years. At the time of clinic attendance the mean age of pregnant and nonpregnant patients was 26 and 23.3 years, respectively. Of the 14 primigravid patients, only 50% had an adequate introitus to allow management of the first and second stages of labour. Five had deinfibulation performed antenatally or at delivery. Ninety-three percent of the primigravid patients and 74% of the multigravid patients had a vaginal delivery.
Conclusions We believe that the Northwick Park Hospital management policy for intibulated women closely mirrors the cultural practices in Somalia. The policy also improves obstetric management of infibulated patients. Twenty-six percent of referrals were of nonpregnant women, and this practice is to be encouraged.