Highly Specialized Care for Women with Genital Trauma or Genital Mutilation
Although rare, there are women in this country who suffered genital trauma prior to immigrating to the United States. Damage may be due to the intentional procedure of female circumcision (removal of the clitoris) which is a cultural norm in some countries or to injuries sustained during childbirth.
The UH Female Sexual Health team recognizes that these women have significant medical needs and is prepared to help. In collaboration with plastic surgeons, we have the advanced training and expertise to perform the following procedures with the goal of improving sexual function and quality of life for these patients.
- Clitoral reconstruction after female circumcision or genital injury
- Vulvar and vaginal reconstruction after damage due to traumatic childbirth or other injury
- Obstetric fistula repair, including both vesico-vaginal and recto-vaginal fistula repair
An obstetric fistula is an abnormal opening between the bladder and the vagina (vesico-vaginal fistula) or rectum and the vagina (recto-vaginal fistula) that may occur due to childbirth injury (rare in the U.S.), radiation treatments for cancer or surgical complications.
Depending on the size and location of the fistula, urine or stool can leak into the vagina, causing both medical and psychological complications for the woman. Although some very small fistulas may close on their own, most need to be repaired surgically.
Rachel Pope, MD, MPH, is fellowship trained in global women’s health. She has worked extensively in sub-Saharan Africa to gain the experience and advanced training needed to treat women with rare but serious genital injuries.