The journey of intimacy is a deeply personal and vulnerable aspect of any relationship. When one partner has experienced Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), it requires a unique level of understanding, compassion, and sensitivity to ensure that both partners can experience intimacy in a respectful and caring manner.
Due to the taboo of the subject, we barely talk about what sex is like for the women who’ve undergone FGM, and many men find themselves with partners who have undergone it with no idea how to navigate the situation.
While it might seem like FGM is not something within our “communities”, it’s important to remember the startling statistics revealed by the Egyptian Family Health Survey (EFHS) 2021.
The EFHS found that 86% of Egyptian married women aged 15 to 49 have undergone FGM, with 74% of these procedures performed by doctors. These findings underscore the importance of addressing this issue with empathy, regardless of social class or level of education.
This is why we have decided to get in touch with an FGM recovery center to give us some advice on how to navigate sex with FGM, and things men should know about their partners with FGM.
The names of the FGM survivors giving the testimonies are hidden for their privacy.
You MUST Create a Safe Space for Communication
Open and honest communication is the foundation of any healthy relationship, especially when discussing sensitive topics like FGM. Encourage your partner to share their feelings, fears, and desires.
By actively listening and showing empathy, you create a safe space for them to express themselves without judgment.
“When I opened up to my partner about my experience with FGM, his willingness to listen and learn helped us build an even stronger bond.
Knowing that he cared about my feelings made a world of difference.”
Educate Yourself About FGM
Educating yourself about FGM is a crucial step in understanding the physical and emotional impact it can have. Learning about the different types of FGM, potential complications, and available resources can help you provide better support.
However, ensure that you approach your partner’s experience with respect, and only discuss what they are comfortable sharing.
“My partner took the time to educate themselves about FGM, which demonstrated their commitment to understanding my perspective.
It made me feel valued and supported.”
Prioritize Consent and Comfort
Consent and comfort are paramount in any intimate relationship. Discuss boundaries openly and ensure that both partners are comfortable with the pace of physical intimacy. Be patient and respectful, and remember that the emotional well-being of your partner is as important as the physical aspect of intimacy.
“My partner always checks in with me, making sure I’m comfortable every step of the way. It’s incredibly empowering to know that my feelings matter.”
Explore Alternative Forms of Intimacy
Intimacy doesn’t solely revolve around physical acts. Emotional intimacy, communication, and shared experiences can strengthen your connection.
Explore alternative forms of intimacy, such as cuddling, holding hands, and spending quality time together. These gestures can help you both feel close and cherished.
“Due to my FGM, my partner and I discovered new ways to connect emotionally. Our relationship deepened as we found joy in the little things.”
Seek Professional Help
If physical discomfort or emotional challenges arise due to FGM, seeking professional help is essential. Medical professionals with experience in FGM-related issues can offer guidance on managing physical discomfort and ensuring overall health.
Additionally, couples counseling or therapy can provide a safe environment to address any emotional hurdles together.
“Therapy was a game-changer for us. It allowed us to navigate the emotional aftermath of FGM as a team, ultimately bringing us closer.”
Supporting a partner who has experienced FGM requires patience, empathy, and a willingness to learn and grow together. The high prevalence of FGM in certain communities, as highlighted by the EFHS 2021, emphasizes the urgent need for understanding and sensitivity.
By creating an environment of understanding, respecting boundaries, and prioritizing emotional well-being, you can foster a deeper and more meaningful connection.
Remember, your partner’s experience is unique, so tailor your approach to their needs, and let your love and support guide you both on this journey.