A newly published Ugandan study shows women report that sex is equally satisfying, if not more so, following their male partner's circumcision. Health experts hope the findings may help allay concerns across AIDS-hit Africa about the procedure, which previous research indicates reduces the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission by 50 to 60 percent.
Dr. Ronald H. Gray, professor of population and family planning at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues interviewed 455 women ages 15-49 in Uganda before and after their husbands were circumcised as part of a randomized HIV prevention trial. Just 13 (2.9 percent) reported decreased satisfaction after their partner was circumcised. Of the remaining women, 255 (57 percent) reported no change in satisfaction and 177 (39.8 percent) reported greater satisfaction. Satisfaction differences were unrelated to age, religion or education level.
The most common reason the women gave for increased satisfaction was better penile hygiene. Others included more frequent orgasms for the male partner; improved sexual desire of the male partner; the male partner had less difficulty maintaining an erection; and the woman achieved orgasm more frequently.
Diminished satisfaction was linked to declining female sexual desire; lower male sexual desire; and the male partner having trouble with erections.
Noted AIDS researcher Dr. Robert C. Bailey of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study, called the findings "unique and important."
"In eastern and southern Africa, the high prevalence of HIV infection is correlated with low rates of circumcision," noted Bailey. "If we can get a significant proportion of men circumcised, it will drop the prevalence of HIV over the next 10 to 20 years. Women's opinions of what circumcision does in terms of sexual function are really important in driving the demand" for the procedure.
The study, "Sexual Satisfaction of Women Partners of Circumcised Men in a Randomized Trial of Male Circumcision in Rakai, Uganda," was published in BJU International (2009;doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2009.08683.x).