Int J Sex Health. 2013. DOI:10.1080/19317611.2013.851139
Labia Minora Elongation and its implications on the health of women: A Systematic Review
Martínez Pérez G, Tomás Aznar C, Bagnol B
Labia Minora Elongation is a female genital modification practice categorized among the types included in the fourth group of female genital mutilation. In this paper we display the results of a systematic review of the evidence-based knowledge published on the health risks and benefits of Labia Minora Elongation as informed by African female respondents who are insiders of the practice. No other systematic review on this specific topic has been published before. A methodological bibliographic search was done in scientific databases, by manual referencing and by contacting experts on this area of knowledge. Seventeen papers turned out eligible for this review, which correspond to nine different studies. Eight of these studies were conducted in Eastern and Southern African countries and one was carried out in Italy. This review concludes that pain at the beginning of the practice, nuisances related to the use of caustic herbs, and stigmatization in failing to comply with the practice are the principal health risks associated to labia minora elongation. At the same time, there is evidence that labial elongation may benefit the sexual health and well being of women. More research of a quantitative nature is necessary to determine its prevalence across the practicing cultures and to precise its implications on the sexual and reproductive health for the women who engage in this female genital modification.