Review on July 22, 2015
Circumcision in men is incredibly prevalent, with about one third of the world's male population circumcised. Circumcision is especially widespread in the Middle East, Africa, and the United States, where circumcision rates can top 70%.
Circumcision is a contentious topic for many people, and the scientific community does not have a unified opinion on it. Some people say it has health benefits and can protect against HIV/AIDS. The opposing side says it has no health benefits, is a traumatic event, and can make sex less pleasurable.
Recent research suggests that male circumcision can impact a woman's vagina during intercourse. The survey, conducted in Britain, indicates that male circumcision may irritate the symptoms of vaginal dryness.
Male Circumcision May Agitate Vaginal Dryness
A lack of vaginal lubrication can make sexual intercourse painful and affect a woman's sexual enjoyment. Many women will at some point experience vaginal dryness, but it can be especially severe during menopause.
The study, titled “The effect of male circumcision on the sexual enjoyment of the female partner” and published in the British Journal of Urology International, found that women tended to find sexual intercourse more comfortable with a partner who was uncircumcised.
In the study, women reported they were significantly more likely to have experienced vaginal dryness during sex with circumcised men than with uncircumcised ones.
These results suggest that the male foreskin provides a moveable barrier that protects the sensitive lining of the vagina, reduces friction and chafing, and prevents the loss of natural lubrication during intercourse.
To help prevent discomfort during intercourse due to vaginal dryness, the use of water-based lubricants and increasing the amount of foreplay is recommended.
Other Repercussions of Male Circumcision for Women
The impacts of male circumcision on women have not been widely studied, so it is not possible to provide a comprehensive list of what male circumcision means for women. However, it is possible to have a happy and healthy sexual relationship no matter if your partner is circumcised or uncircumcised.
There is some evidence that women whose partner is a circumcised male are at a lower risk of getting cervical cancer. However, you can also lower your risk of getting cervical cancer by getting vaccinated, not smoking, and using condoms.
A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology focused on the sexual satisfaction of uncircumcised and circumcised men and their partners. In the study, circumcised men reported having more partners and were more likely to have problems having orgasms.
Women with circumcised partners were more like to report being sexually unfulfilled and experiencing pain or difficulty during sex. However, this study took place in Denmark, where circumcision rates for men are around 5%, so more research needs to be done on the topic, and on the topic of male circumcision as a whole.
- "Vaginal Dryness". Mayo Clinic Health Resource. 2007
- "Vulvovaginal Symptoms". The Changing Body: Menopause Handbook. www.menopause.org
- Love, Susan M.D. Menopause and Hormone Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.