Female Genital Cutting and Deinfibulation: Applying the Theory of Planned Behavior to Research and Practice

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9 Scopus citations


At least 200 million girls and women across the world have experienced female genital cutting (FGC). International migration has grown substantially in recent decades, leading to a need for health care providers in regions of the world that do not practice FGC to become knowledgeable and skilled in their care of women who have undergone the procedure. There are four commonly recognized types of FGC (Types I, II, III, and IV). To adhere to recommendations advanced by the World Health Organization (WHO) and numerous professional organizations, providers should discuss and offer deinfibulation to female patients who have undergone infibulation (Type III FGC), particularly before intercourse and childbirth. Infibulation involves narrowing the vaginal orifice through cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or labia majora, and creating a covering seal over the vagina with appositioned tissue. The WHO has published a handbook for health care providers that includes guidance in counseling patients about deinfibulation and performing the procedure. Providers may benefit from additional guidance in how to discuss FGC and deinfibulation in a manner that is sensitive to each patient’s culture, community, and values. Little research is available to describe decision-making about deinfibulation among women. This article introduces a theoretically informed conceptual model to guide future research and clinical conversations about FGC and deinfibulation with women who have undergone FGC, as well as their partners and families. This conceptual model, based on the Theory of Planned Behavior, may facilitate conversations that lead to shared decision-making between providers and patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalArchives of sexual behavior
StateAccepted/In press - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The writing of this article was partially supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD091685-01A1) and the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School. The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Deinfibulation
  • Female circumcision
  • Female genital cutting
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Infibulation
  • Reinfibulation
  • Shared decision-making
  • Theory of Planned Behavior


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