A girl or woman who's had FGM may:

  • have difficulty walking, sitting or standing
  • spend longer than normal in the bathroom or toilet
  • have unusual behaviour after an absence from school or college
  • be particularly reluctant to undergo normal medical examinations
  • ask for help, but may not be explicit about the problem due to embarrassment or fear.

Worried about FGM?

Call the FGM helpline if you're worried a child is at risk of, or has had, FGM.
It's free, anonymous and we're here 24/7.

0800 028 3550

or email fgmhelp@nspcc.org.uk

Things you may notice

If you're worried that a child is being abused, watch out for any unusual behaviour. 

  • withdrawn
  • suddenly behaves differently
  • anxious
  • clingy
  • depressed
  • aggressive
  • problems sleeping
  • eating disorders
  • wets the bed
  • soils clothes
  • takes risks
  • misses school
  • changes in eating habits
  • obsessive behaviour
  • nightmares
  • drugs
  • alcohol
  • self-harm
  • thoughts about suicide

If you're worried about a child, contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000.

Find out more about the signs, symptoms and effects of child abuse.


What to look out for before FGM happens

A girl at immediate risk of FGM may not know what's going to happen. But she might talk about:

  • being taken 'home' to visit family
  • a special occasion to 'become a woman'
  • an older female relative visiting the UK.

She may ask a teacher or another adult for help if she suspects FGM is going to happen or she may run away from home or miss school.

People

Over 1,700 victims of FGM were referred to specialist clinics in the last two years

Explanation: 6 clinics in England, which specialise in helping victims of female genital mutilation, provided the NSPCC with patient data from the last 2 years.

The effects of FGM

FGM can be extremely painful and dangerous. It can cause:

  • severe pain
  • shock
  • bleeding
  • infection such as tetanus, HIV and hepatitis B and C
  • organ damage
  • blood loss and infections that can cause death in some cases.

Long-term effects

Girls and women who have had FGM may have problems that continue through adulthood, including:

  • difficulties urinating or incontinence
  • frequent or chronic vaginal, pelvic or urinary infections
  • menstrual problems
  • kidney damage and possible failure
  • cysts and abscesses
  • pain when having sex
  • infertility
  • complications during pregnancy and childbirth
  • emotional and mental health problems.

Further information and advice

Who is affected

FGM can happen at any age before getting married or having a baby. Some girls are babies when FGM is carried out.
Find out more about who is affected by FGM

Keeping children safe

How to help keep children safe from FGM
Keeping children safe from FGM

Our research helps us be there for every child

Our research and services help prevent abuse and support families. Please help us to stop children suffering in silence.

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It's Time to demand change

Up to 90% of children who've been abused will develop mental health issues by the time they're 18.

Help us change this