FGM and Sex: Does sex ever become pleasurable?

I am so thrilled! I just read in Pambazuka of the first hospital in Burkina Faso, “The Pleasure Hospital” that is reconstructing clitorises for women who have been subjected to female genital mutilation. Since I started thinking seriously about women’s rights to pleasurable sex and sexuality I have always wondered about women who have been FGM’d. Do they have pleasurable sex?

I have read a few books by African women who have suffered from the practice. Those that readily come to mind include Aman’s autobiography, Aryan Hirsi’s Infidel and Waris Dirie’s Desert Flower. If I remember correctly Dirie is critical of the practice, Hirsi wrote eloquently about the torture she and her sister underwent in the name of culture and Aman refused to criticise or condone FGM. These books informed me about the pain that women who have suffered FGM go through during menstruation, intercourse and childbirth yet still let me wondering, “Do they ever get to a stage where sex becomes pleasurable?”

Does anyone know whether sex can be pleasurable if your clitoris has been cut off/excised/infibulated? I am very conscious that I am at this point thinking of vaginal/clitoral sex and not much broader…

5 comments On FGM and Sex: Does sex ever become pleasurable?

  • Well I am not a woman, but from my knowledge of science, the clitoris is equivalent to the males penis and having it cut off denies one of a significant ”instrument” for intercourse. I have read Hirsi Ali’s book too and FGM goes beyond sex and into child bearing.. not a woman but I can feel the pain.. Ajeshh..(Gh cry for pain!!)

  • One of my aunt's (family friend) was FGM'd and only had sex when trying for children as it was a very painful experience. She now has 4 children and has not had sex with her husband since the 4th.

    I did some research on FGM & found there are different ways to torture women with this practice. Some they just eliminate the clitoris; others they eliminate the clitoris, labia etc; other still do the above AND sew everything together leaving the tiniest of openings for urine, menstrual blood etc. Just thinking about it has me crossing my legs (not to mention cringing at the issues of hygiene).

    I know of no one else who has been mutilated in this way so cannot really speak as to whether sex would be pleasurable for women who have gone through this. To hazard a guess though, sadly I would have to say rarely, if at all.

  • @Nii Ayi – Charle, I feel the Ajesh true. Apparently the clitoris is “superior” to the penis because it has more nerve endings and it’s sole function is pleasure:) Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    @Evelina – It is really gruesome when you investigate the various types of FGM that exist. Research indicates 4 types of which you listed 3. The 4th one I belief is where the clitoris is stretched…I think it is done in some parts of Southern Africa. Thanks for your insight

    Nana Darkoa

  • My sister and I (thank God) escaped FGM because my mother fought my father’s family, whose ‘tribe’ perform it routinely.

    I have cousins my age who have never enjoyed sex, loathe it and don’t know what an orgasm it.

    What is really sad, is that girls from my dad’s tribe are inculcated with the belief (at a young age) that going through FGM somehow makes them ‘superior’ to other women. There are girls who literally cry to have it done to them

  • @bijou – Thank goodness you were spared the ordeal. Yes I agree with you that one of the saddest aspects of FGM is that girls/women buy into the “beliefs” around FGM and so themselves perpetuate it. Of course there are also lots of women and girls who have suffered the practice and are working to ensure no one else has to undergo it.

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