Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Clitoral hood

The clitoral hood, or prepuce, is a fold of skin that surrounds and protects the clitoris.

Removal or "splitting" of the clitoral hood is called "clitoridotomy" or "hoodectomy". It is one of the surgeries to which the term "female circumcision" is applied and perhaps the only one comparable to male circumcision, but is not to be confused with other procedures such as clitoridectomy (removal of the clitoris itself) or removal of the labia minora.

When it is practiced today, it is usually an elective surgery intended to enhance the sexual sensitivity of the clitoris, and considered only in cases where the hood is overgrown or cannot be retracted.

From the late 19th century until the 1950s, it was practiced not to enhance, but to control female sexuality, and was advocated in the United States together with more invasive procedures such as the removal of the clitoris and infibulation by groups like the Orificial Surgery Society until 1925. Specifically, doctors performing or advocating the procedure were concerned that girls of all ages would otherwise engage in more masturbation and be "polluted" by the activity, which was referred to as "self-abuse" [1].

Such views regarding masturbation are now widely discredited. Nevertheless, some doctors continued to advocate clitoridotomy for hygienic reasons or to reduce masturbation, even as other procedures were increasingly believed to be a violation of genital integrity, and as such, a form of genital mutilation. For example, C.F. McDonald wrote in a 1958 paper titled Circumcision of the Female class="external">[1:

If the male needs circumcision for cleanliness and hygiene, why not the female? I have operated on perhaps 40 patients who needed this attention.

The author describes how a two-year old was "cured" of frequent masturbation using the procedure. By the late 1950s, and especially after the "sexual revolution", clitoridotomy started to be advocated by some doctors to increase sexual sensitivity of adult females, so as to increase sexual pleasure. Performing the procedure on infants, however, is no longer advocated in the United States.

External link