A recent review has highlighted evidence that the female clitoris is important for reproduction – not just pleasure.
Across the world, in many countries and cultures, female genital mutilation (FGM) is practised under the premise that the job of the clitoris is solely for sexual pleasure. New evidence is highlighted in the review that shows there is a link between the clitoris and reproduction.
The negative health and psychological impacts of FGM are borne by 200 million women, and a further 50 million girls are at risk of becoming victim. FGM is happening on every continent except Antarctica: it is a global issue. Some countries have seen up to 10% reductions in the practice of FGM through policy-led approaches, yet FGM still impacts between 15% and 95% of girls in 20 African countries, and change remains elusive in many such as Sudan, Mali, Djibouti and Sierra Leone.
The review, published in Clinical Anatomy, notes that stimulating the clitoris activates the brain to cause a combination of changes in the female reproductive tract that creates its readiness to receive and process sperm to achieve possible fertilisation of the egg.
These include enhancement of vaginal blood flow, an increase in vaginal lubrication, an increase in vaginal oxygen and temperature, and most importantly a change in the position of the cervix, the entrance to the uterus.
This change brings the cervix away from the semen pool and prevents semen from traveling into the uterus too rapidly, thus allowing sperm time to become mobile and activated to fertilise the egg. Therefore, the clitoris has both procreative (reproductive) and recreative (pleasure) functions. Removal of the clitoris – which is performed in some countries and cultures – creates not only a sexual disability but also a possible reproductive disability.
The review’s author, Roy Levin, MSc, PhD, said: “The often-repeated mantra, that the sole function of clitoris is to induce sexual pleasure, is now obsolete.
“The concept changes a major sexual belief, and the physiological evidence is now obvious.”
Female Genital Mutilation
FGM and child marriage have reached epidemic levels in Africa. Female genital mutilation has been documented in 30 countries, mainly in Africa.
Evidence shows that the work of the grassroots activists and survivors, who have built the largest-ever movement to end FGM, has had results. Thousands of communities across Africa are abandoning the practice, and many countries now have legal frameworks in place and provide women and girls with protection and care services.
The UK has made the largest ever donor investment to help end the devastating and harmful practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2030.
Earlier this year, a new UK aid package was announced to support the African-led movement to end FGM and provide better protections for vulnerable girls in some of the world’s poorest countries.
UK aid will provide an extra £50 million – the biggest single investment worldwide to date by any international donor – to tackle this issue across the most affected countries in Africa.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most systematic and widespread human rights violations around the world. A total of 35% percent of women worldwide are estimated to have experienced, at some point in their lives, either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner.
In some countries, this figure goes up to 70%.