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Are uncircumcised women really more sexually active?

THE concept of female (and male) circumcision, as with many traditions, can be invisible until people are forced to examine it. This may explain why nearly half of Nigerians in one study gave as their reason for the practice, ‘it is the custom of our people’. A 36-year-old Ethiopian woman explained, ‘I had the foreskin of my clitoris removed as a baby, just like my brother…why does everyone say it is so terrible and that I should have problems from it?’ Circumcised female genitalia are considered normal to some Africans, just circumcised male genitalia are normal to Americans. As a 30 year –old Infibulated Somali woman explained, ‘ I want doctors to know that the way I look is normal for me’ a woman may desire circumcision to be marriageable, or chaste, for aesthetics, or to conform to tradition. Reasons for deeply rooted traditions are often difficult to articulate and therefore are easily discounted. Although many treat ritual female genital surgery as a singular process affecting millions of women, it is not a homogenous practice.

I am very sure you have heard so much about female circumcision. I am also very sure that you know the efforts individual corporate bodies, government agencies have fought to stop it. It is believed to be barbaric and unnecessary. What just comes to my mind as I write this piece is the fact that though female circumcision has been put to a ‘near-stop’ but what has been the fate of those that were initially victims of this act? How are they faring? Is it in any way affected their sexuality? If it has, as we are about to find out, are there corrective measures that could solve this uncomfortable situation these ladies find themselves in?

‘I know of some women that before you get them ‘in the mood you will need to touch and caress and kiss and fondle everywhere before they are ‘ready’ for you, you get? I also know of women who you don’t need much touch or caress before they are right in the mood. The white man has labelled the first set of women’ frigid’ while the second category of women is labelled sexually active’.

Have you ever wondered why lady A is frigid and lady B is active? Think you should. My late mum of blessed memory once told me that the reason female circumcision was ‘healthy’ or highly recommended in their time was because it was meant to curb promiscuity in women.

It was believed that when a female was not circumcised, she was bound to be wayward. I forgot to ask mama if there were researches conducted to back up such findings. A junior colleague of mine has once told me that if a man so much as touches her breast, that she will be ‘gone (don’t ask me where she will go to). Another colleague also told me how he had been married for about five years. ‘In those five years, he said, ‘my wife has never once initiated sex’. If I don’t make the move, she will just lie down there like a log of wood in bed.’ ‘Though I hate to admit it, I am almost regretting choosing her as my wife. The girl I dated before her was more romantic. ‘She initiates it when she is in the mood.’ This really got me thinking. Can it be remotely possible that his present wife may have been circumcised and as a result cannot really feel her sexuality due to her circumcision?

Ironically, however, studies show that circumcised women experience sexual arousal and orgasm as frequently as uncircumcised women. The researchers also find no difference in the frequency of intercourse or age of first sexual experience between the two groups of women. During the operation (circumcision), all or part of the clitoris and the labia are removed. Proponents of female circumcision claim it makes virginity at marriage and marital fidelity more likely. Those against it, condemn it as dangerous and painful.

Concerning circumcision and sexuality in women, the research findings of BJOG: an international journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology shows that ‘female genital cutting cannot be justified by arguments that suggest, it reduces sexual activity in women. Well, I am not a researcher neither am I an expert on this, but I know one thing, I know women then can go months and years without a man’s touch and be very comfortable with it, because they don’t miss anything. I also know women that cannot stay three days with a man on the same bed without initiating ‘it’. The practice of female genital surgery is simultaneously complex and controversial. Circumcised women have an increased risk of infertility, in part due to chronic pelvic infections and obstruction to intercourse.

Although there are no controlled studies of the effect of female circumcision on sexual functioning, but a large percentage of clinicians assume that a woman will have diminished sexual sensation if her clitoris is removed. Someone argued that a woman circumcised before puberty learns her erotic response with whatever erogenous tissues she has left, such as her nipples. It may be true that most sexual activity happens in the brain, but the response of the brain depends on the quality of the instruments as well as the performance. So, it follows therefore that if for one reason or the other, you have a woman that is not easily stimulated, you need to do extra. Some are highly active, so there might be no need to do much, but, for the other group of women who are not easily…. There is to show some prowess, that way, you will be ensure that both of you will end up happy. With a good effort your woman can reach her ‘peak’ again and again.

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