A woman’s risk of acquiring STIs is greatly reduced if her male sexual partner is circumcised, recent research indicates. This extends to a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer.

The high number of initiate deaths in South African circumcision ceremonies has highlighted the need for improved circumcision safety.

Male circumcision may help reduce women’s risk of contracting various sexually transmitted diseases as well as cervical cancer, according to recent research.

There is already compelling evidence that circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually-acquired HIV infection by 60%, according to the World Health Organisation. And, while it is well known that male circumcision helps prevent STIs in men, it was previously thought that it may not reduce STIs in women.

However, a recent systematic review of 81 published articles found that the reduction of STIs in circumcised men, “will translate into lower risk of STI exposure in women,” adding that circumcision was a health-promoting and life-saving public health measure.

The review added that circumcision should be part of a package of measures to reduce STI risk such as using condoms, reducing sexual partners and taking HIV-prevention medication.

The findings come ahead of South Africa’s annual initiation season when circumcision is part of a rite of passage to manhood in some communities, but where botched procedures at rural initiation schools result in dozens of deaths annually. Last season, 34 initiate deaths were reported.

Dr Kabo Ijane from The Urology Hospital, Pretoria, says there’s a growing awareness of the health benefits of medical circumcision in a hospital or clinical environment.

“The Urology Hospital offers the best expertise, the latest techniques, a safe, sterile and comfortable environment for circumcision and protection against infection and injury.”

For more information, contact The Urology Hospital, Pretoria on 021 423-4300 or SMS the word INFO and your email address to 33000 (SMS charged at R1.50).