What is Female Genital Injury?
- Female Genital Injury may be described as an injury caused to the female sex organs that includes the labia, vulva, vagina, clitoris, and even to the perineal region (the area around the anus and genitalia)
- The injuries may be from blunt or sharp penetrating objects. Severe injuries to female genitalia are typically rare, due to the arrangement of the organs
- Depending on the injury, the condition can be mild or severe that results in long-term complications including permanent scarring, infertility, and long-term emotional trauma
What are the Causes of Female Genital Injury?
Female Genital Injuries are caused by a variety of factors including:
- Injuries caused while riding two-wheelers (straddle injuries), or while participating in certain sports such as gymnastics, martial arts, kick-boxing
- Injuries caused by razors and scissors (such as while removing pubic hair or placing tattoos)
- Automobile accidents and sports-related injuries (while playing soccer or hockey)
- Street fights and domestic violence
- Fall injuries causing straddling of the legs (especially if the individuals are heavy or overweight)
- Girls using playground equipment such as see-saws, crossbars, or jumping over fences
- Girls playing with their sex organs (exploratory) using objects such as toys; it is reportedly common for very young girls to insert objects into their vagina
- Self-inflicted wounds
- Occupational-related injuries
- Injuries to the genitalia sustained during sexual activities/experiments; bite wounds
Sexual abuse: If there is a suspicion of sexual abuse (especially when the injured individual is a child), call 911 or your local emergency number, to immediately report the abuse.
What are the Signs & Symptoms of Female Genital Injury?
The signs and symptoms of Female Genital Injuries may include:
- Mild, moderate, or severe pain depending on the severity of the trauma
- Bleeding due to cuts and nicks that are minor
- Severe bleeding from severe trauma (penetrating wounds)
- Bruising, contusion, formation of a blood clot
- Discoloration of affected skin
- Swollen genitalia
- Vaginal discharge with foul smell
- Injury to the urinary tract
- If the urethra is affected in rare cases due to a pelvic fracture, it can result in urination difficulties, painful urination, and blood in urine (hematuria)
Other associated symptoms may include vomiting, abdominal and groin pain, and unconsciousness.
How is First Aid administered for Female Genital Injury?
If there is a suspicion of sexual abuse, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number). In case there is no sexual abuse involved, the following steps may be considered.
First Aid tips for Female Genital Injuries: (Since the involved region is sensitive and private, the affected individual’s dignity and emotions should be considered to the extent possible.)
- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately, in case of the following:
- The affected individual is a child below age 2 years
- If there is any visible change to the genital profile from the injury
- If there are deep penetrating injuries causing severe bleeding; blood in urine
- If the child or adult has lost consciousness
- Ensure that the injured area is covered from sight (of others) while administering first aid
- Wash the area with clean water (for minor cuts, scrapes, and wounds)
- Stop any bleeding by applying pressure, using a sterile dressing or a clean wet cloth
- If any sharp object remains impaled in the area or in the vagina, DO NOT attempt to remove it (as this may result in increased bleeding or cause further injury to the area)
- Apply an ice pack to injury site to reduce swelling and pain; do not apply ice directly to the skin, but wrap it in a cloth or towel
- A tetanus shot may be necessary, in case of an open cut/wound
- In case of pain (in adults), consider taking over-the-counter pain medication
- In case of pain in children, take the advice of a healthcare provider
Take the individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment, as quickly as possible, in case of an emergency.
Who should administer First Aid for Female Genital Injury?
- Any individual, in close vicinity of the injured person, can provide immediate comfort and first aid, but one must seek medical help in most cases of a Female Genital Injury
- In case of a severe injury, calling 911 (or your local emergency number) is the first and immediate line of action
What is the Prognosis of Female Genital Injury?
- The prognosis for a Female Genital Injury varies widely and depends on the extent and type of injury and the age of the affected individual
- Minor cases have a much better prognosis than moderate to severe injuries. Often, in the case of a major injury, the treatment may be prolonged and necessitate surgeries and physical therapy, to repair damaged genital parts
How can Female Genital Injury be Prevented?
A few helpful tips to prevent Female Genital Injuries:
- Utilize suitable PPE (personal protective equipment) while performing certain dangerous activities, outdoor activities, or sports
- Carefully supervise children at parks and playgrounds
- Use seatbelts in motor vehicles
- Add safety features, such as non-slick patches and handrails to the stairs, to avoid fall injuries
What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?
- Immediately call 911 or your local emergency number, if the injury is severe
- Consider medical treatment for all cases of genital injuries