Skip to content Skip to footer

Exploring the Correlation Between Female Genital Mutilation and Cervical Cancer: Unveiling a Hidden Health Crisis

  • Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision, remains prevalent in many communities across Nigeria, posing significant health risks and violating the rights of millions of girls and women across the country.

The physical risks, including severe infection, infertility, and death, of FGM are well known. So are the psychological risks of this harmful practice. What is not well known, however, is the link between FGM and cervical cancer.

The Link to Cervical Cancer: Understanding the Mechanisms
While multiple factors contribute to the development of cervical cancer, research suggests a correlation between FGM and an increased risk of cervical cancer. The mechanisms underlying this association are multifaceted:

  • Chronic Inflammation and Scar Tissue Formation: FGM can result in chronic inflammation and the formation of scar tissue in the genital area. Prolonged inflammation and tissue damage may disrupt the normal cellular environment of the cervix, increasing susceptibility to oncogenic viruses such as human papillomavirus (HPV), a primary risk factor for cervical cancer.


  • Obstructed Labour and Obstetric Complications: Women who have undergone FGM may experience obstructed labour and other obstetric complications during childbirth due to the altered anatomy of their genitalia. Obstetric trauma and lacerations sustained during childbirth can further increase the risk of cervical lesions and HPV infection, predisposing women to cervical cancer later in life.



  • Limited Access to Reproductive Health Services: Women and girls who have undergone FGM may face barriers to accessing essential reproductive health services, including cervical cancer screening and vaccination against HPV. Lack of awareness, cultural taboos, and stigma surrounding reproductive health issues may also deter women from seeking timely medical care, exacerbating disparities in cancer prevention and treatment

Addressing the Intersection of FGM and Cervical Cancer

Efforts to combat cervical cancer must address the intersecting factors of FGM, gender inequality, and limited access to healthcare services. Key strategies include:

  • Integration of Services: Cervical cancer screening, treatment, and HPV vaccination programs should be integrated into existing maternal and reproductive health services to improve access and uptake among underserved populations.
  • Community Education and Awareness: Promoting awareness about the health risks associated with FGM and cervical cancer is essential for challenging harmful cultural norms and empowering women to make informed decisions about their health.
  • Capacity Building and Training: Provide healthcare providers with training on culturally sensitive care and effective communication strategies to engage communities affected by FGM and address their unique healthcare needs.
  • Policy and Advocacy: Advocate for the enactment and enforcement of laws and policies that prohibit FGM, protect the rights of women and girls, and promote gender equality and access to quality healthcare services.


Female Genital Mutilation remains a pervasive violation of human rights and a critical public health issue in Nigeria and across Africa. Despite progress in raising awareness and implementing legal reforms, the practice continues to pose significant challenges to the health, well-being, and dignity of millions of girls and women.


Ending FGM requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the root causes of the practice, challenges harmful cultural norms, and promotes gender equality and women’s empowerment. By fostering dialogue, education, and community engagement, we can work together to eliminate FGM and ensure a brighter, safer future for generations of girls and women in Nigeria and beyond.


Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.