The effects of type of female circumcision on infertility and fertility in Sudan

J Biosoc Sci. 2002 Jul;34(3):363-77. doi: 10.1017/s0021932002003632.


This study explores the association between type of female circumcision and infertility and fertility in Sudan using the 1989-90 Demographic and Health Survey. It is hypothesized that women with either Pharaonic or Intermediate circumcision would have higher infertility and lower fertility compared with women with Sunna circumcision, and that uncircumcised women would have the lowest infertility and highest fertility of the three groups. This hypothesis, a widely held assumption, proved to be largely incorrect. Though women with Pharaonic or Intermediate circumcision did have a higher prevalence of primary infertility than uncircumcised women, women with Sunna circumcision had even lower rates of primary infertility compared with uncircumcised women. This pattern prevailed in multivariate models controlling for confounding variables, where women with Pharaonic or Intermediate circumcision had significantly higher primary infertility. Moreover, though women with Pharaonic or Intermediate circumcision also had the highest prevalence of secondary infertility, once confounding covariates were controlled in multivariate models, there was no significant difference among the three groups of women. With respect to fertility, the total fertility rate was 7.6 for women with Pharaonic or Intermediate circumcision, 8.1 for women with Sunna circumcision and 8.3 for uncircumcised women. Differences in fertility were found to be insignificant when covariates were controlled. The multivariate models were estimated using logistic regression. In conclusion, Pharaonic or Intermediate circumcision may be associated with higher primary infertility while there was no evidence suggesting that either secondary infertility or fertility was associated with a woman's circumcision status.

MeSH terms

  • Circumcision, Female / adverse effects*
  • Circumcision, Female / methods
  • Female
  • Fertility*
  • Humans
  • Infertility / etiology*
  • Logistic Models
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sudan