Study: do circumcised penises mean less vaginal infections? (spoiler alert – yes)

A 2009 study into the impact of male circumcision on their female partner’s vaginal health has shed some light on the process that may encourage the harbouring of bacteria in foreskins. This research suggests that foreskins may in some cases have a negative impact on the vaginal health of sexual partners.

     The study
The researchers collected a group of men and women – 783 wives to act as the control group (uncircumcised husbands) and 825 wives to act as the intervention group (with circumcised husbands).

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) incidence at enrolment was higher in the uncircumcised group (38 per cent) than the circumcised group (31 per cent), with results at one-year follow-up that circumcised group wives reported lower rates of genital ulcerations, but there were no differences in vaginal discharge or problems urinating.

The risk of trichomonas was reduced in the circumcised group wives, as were the risks of bacterial vaginosis.

Men who are circumcised offer their female partners an element of safety in regards to infection spread.

Gray RH, Kigozi G, Serwadda D, et al. The effects of male circumcision on female partners’ genital tract symptoms and vaginal infections in a randomized trial in Rakai, Uganda. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2009;200:42.e1-42.e7.