Reconstructive surgery brings hope to survivors of genital cutting – hands-on surgical training by Dr. Amr, Egypt

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is one of the biggest issues facing Egypt’s female population. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 92 percent of women and girls aged 15-49 in Egypt have undergone FGM.

The tradition, whose origins remain an obscure and contentious topic, continues to plague communities across the country, with clitoridectomy being the most common FGM procedure in Egypt.

The procedure is often performed on young girls without their consent—in many cases, victims are physically restrained—and in unsanitary conditions, which leads to lifelong complications. FGM victims can develop incontinence and are more likely to suffer vaginal infections than other women. Other issues that often affects women who have undergone FGM include pain during intercourse and childbirth and, in many cases, difficulty enjoying sex.

One organization working to make FGM survivors whole again is the Restore Foundation, whose services range from psychological support and psychosexual therapy, to providing surgical and nonsurgical solutions to restore genitals to their natural form.

“I have been doing reconstructive surgeries for FGM victims for more than 22 years … [However], we have found that surgery is not the only method of dealing with complications of FGM. Actually in Europe, they are starting [to rely more on] psychotherapy for these victims,” cosmetic and reconstructive gynecologist and co-founder of the Restore Foundation Dr. Amr Seifeldin tells Egyptian Streets.

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“We don’t just take the patient as soon as she comes in to surgery, she is subjected to psychotherapy—psychosexual therapy actually, analysis and treatment, if necessary. And then if the problem is sensation, we can try nonsurgical methods first. If we find that the patient needs surgery, then we schedule her for surgery after psychological evaluation,” he explains.

Clitoral reconstructive surgery was first introduced by French urologist Pierre Foldès in the early 90s. The procedure restores the clitoris to its aesthetic form and employs a technique through which surgeons can repair the nerve networks to increase sensation.

Sensation can improve by 80 to 81 percent in most cases, the world-renowned gynecologist explains, more importantly, however, doctors and healthcare professionals have observed that the surgery can improve a woman’s sex life and relationship with her body in other areas as well.

“The success rate is around 90 percent when it comes to psychological well-being. It changes the psychosexual aspect of [a woman’s life], boosts confidence, self-esteem, [gives her a] better quality of life, especially if she is married. It results in a better relationship with parents [who choose to have FGM performed on their daughters],” explains Seifeldin, who founded and served as the former head of Al Galaa Hospital’s rogynecology and cosmetic gynecology unit.

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Other, less invasive methods include the injection of certain compounds into the clitoral body in order to increase sensation and improve a woman’s ability to enjoy sex. The Restore Foundation also offers labial reconstruction surgeries, which correct type 2 FGM—the partial or total removal of the labia.

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