Female genital mutilation/cutting or FGM/C is an ancient cultural tradition, that despite its serious health risks, continues to be practiced globally. Female genital mutilation/cutting can cause significant lifelong biopsychosocial implications for many girls and women. Pregnancy and childbirth are often reported as time women with FGM/C notice an exacerbation of their symptoms placing healthcare professionals, working in maternity services, in an ideal position to support the needs of women with FGM/C and reduce adverse maternal and fetal outcomes often associated with the practice.
To explore the lived experiences and needs of women with female genital mutilation/cutting accessing maternity, gynaecological and sexual health services in South Australia.
Braun and Clarke’s reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyse one-on-one semi-structured interviews of women with female genital mutilation/cutting living in South Australia who had accessed women’s health services.
Ten women with female genital mutilation/cutting from five different countries consented to participate in the interviews. Four themes and fifteen subthemes were identified during the analysis. The main themes were: 1) the healthcare experience, 2) cultural values shape the healthcare experience, 3) speaking up about female genital cutting and 4) working together to improve healthcare experiences. Communication, access to continuity of care, cultural empathy, and psychosocial implications of FGM/C, were expressed as the determinants that mostly impact women's experiences with health services.
The results of this study demonstrate that women with female genital mutilation/cutting have specific cultural needs that can be supported by health services through the inclusion of culturally safe care education and provision of woman-centred care.