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Can penile circumcision prevent sexually transmitted infections?

Yes, penile circumcision can help prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The foreskin of the penis contains cells that are more susceptible to infection by some STIs, such as HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV). Circumcision removes the foreskin, which can help reduce the risk of infection.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV infection in men by up to 60%. It can also reduce the risk of other STIs, such as HPV, herpes simplex virus (HSV), and syphilis.

It is important to note that circumcision is not 100% effective in preventing STIs. Men who are circumcised should still use condoms to protect themselves from infection.

If you are considering circumcision to help prevent STIs, talk to your doctor. They can help you decide if circumcision is right for you and can answer any questions you have.

There is some evidence to suggest that penile circumcision might have a protective effect against certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, herpes simplex virus (HSV), and human papillomavirus (HPV), although the extent of protection can vary. However, it’s important to note that circumcision is not a guaranteed method of preventing STIs, and safer sex practices, such as using condoms, remain crucial for STI prevention. Here’s an overview of the potential impact of circumcision on STI prevention:


  • Some studies have suggested that circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV transmission in heterosexual men. The mechanism behind this reduction is not fully understood, but it might be related to the presence of cells under the foreskin that are susceptible to HIV infection. Circumcision removes these cells.
  • It’s important to emphasize that circumcision alone is not a substitute for other preventive measures, such as practicing safe sex and using condoms, especially in regions with high HIV prevalence.

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV):

  • Circumcision has been associated with a reduced risk of HSV-2 infection, which is the type of herpes virus most commonly associated with genital herpes.
  • The reduction in risk is generally modest and may not eliminate the possibility of HSV infection.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV):

  • Circumcision has been suggested to reduce the risk of HPV infection and associated conditions such as genital warts and cervical cancer in female partners.
  • However, HPV is highly prevalent, and vaccination and safe sex practices remain important for HPV prevention.

It’s important to understand that while circumcision may offer some level of protection against certain STIs, it does not provide complete immunity, and individuals who are circumcised can still contract and transmit STIs. Safer sex practices, regular STI testing, and vaccination (where available) are essential components of comprehensive STI prevention strategies.

Additionally, the impact of circumcision on STI prevention can vary based on factors such as individual behavior, regional prevalence of STIs, and cultural practices. If you have questions about STI prevention, including circumcision, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or sexual health expert who can provide personalized guidance based on your situation.

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