Male Circumcision Improves Sex for Women

Survey Results Are Part of Study That Showed Circumcision Reduces a Man's HIV Risk

By Charlene Laino
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

July 21, 2009 (Cape Town, South Africa) -- Women whose male sexual partners were circumcised report an improvement in their sex life, a survey shows.

Researchers studied 455 partners of men in Uganda who were recently circumcised. Nearly 40% said sex was more satisfying afterward. About 57% reported no change in sexual satisfaction, and only 3% said sex was less satisfying after their partner was circumcised.

Also, some women said their partner had less or no difficulty maintaining or getting an erection.

Among the 3% of women who reported reduced sexual satisfaction, the top two reasons were lower levels of desire on the part of either partner.

Top reasons cited by women for their better sex life: improved hygiene, longer time for their partner to achieve orgasm, and their partner wanting more frequent sex, says Godfrey Kigozi, MD, of the Rakai Health Sciences Program in Kalisizo, Uganda.

Kigozi tells WebMD he undertook the survey because some activists have objected to male circumcision as a means of combating HIV because of a lack of data on female sexual satisfactions.

The findings were presented at the Fifth International AIDS Society Conference on Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention of HIV.

The women in the study all participated in the landmark Rakai circumcision trial, one of three studies that showed that the procedure reduces a heterosexual man's risk of acquiring HIV by more than 50%.

"We included only women who said they were sexually satisfied before [their partner was circumcised]," Kigozi says. "Then we asked them to compare their sexual satisfaction before and afterward."

Men feel much the same way, he adds. In a previous survey, 97% of men said their level of sexual satisfaction was either unchanged or better after they were circumcised.

Naomi Block, MD, of the CDC's HIV Prevention Branch, who chaired the session at which the study was presented, says that other surveys have shown that women don't expect their sex lives to change if their partners are circumcised.

But those were "what if?" surveys, she tells WebMD, while the new study involves women whose partners were actually circumcised.

The findings are "good news" as they show that the use of circumcision to fight HIV is acceptable to women, Block says.

SOURCES: Fifth International AIDS Society Conference on Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention of HIV, Cape Town, South Africa, July 19-22, 2009. Godfrey Kigozi, MD, Rakai Health Sciences Program, Kalisizo, Uganda. Naomi Block, MD, HIV Prevention Branch, CDC, Atlanta.

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