Male Circumcision and Sexual Function in Men and Women: A Survey-Based, Cross-Sectional Study in Denmark

Int J Epidemiol. 2011 Oct;40(5):1367-81. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyr104. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

Abstract

Background: One-third of the world's men are circumcised, but little is known about possible sexual consequences of male circumcision. In Denmark (~5% circumcised), we examined associations of male circumcision with a range of sexual measures in both sexes.

Methods: Participants in a national health survey (n = 5552) provided information about their own (men) or their spouse's (women) circumcision status and details about their sex lives. Logistic regression-derived odds ratios (ORs) measured associations of circumcision status with sexual experiences and current difficulties with sexual desire, sexual needs fulfilment and sexual functioning.

Results: Age at first intercourse, perceived importance of a good sex life and current sexual activity differed little between circumcised and uncircumcised men or between women with circumcised and uncircumcised spouses. However, circumcised men reported more partners and were more likely to report frequent orgasm difficulties after adjustment for potential confounding factors [11 vs 4%, OR(adj) = 3.26; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.42-7.47], and women with circumcised spouses more often reported incomplete sexual needs fulfilment (38 vs 28%, OR(adj) = 2.09; 95% CI 1.05-4.16) and frequent sexual function difficulties overall (31 vs 22%, OR(adj) = 3.26; 95% CI 1.15-9.27), notably orgasm difficulties (19 vs 14%, OR(adj) = 2.66; 95% CI 1.07-6.66) and dyspareunia (12 vs 3%, OR(adj) = 8.45; 95% CI 3.01-23.74). Findings were stable in several robustness analyses, including one restricted to non-Jews and non-Moslems.

Conclusions: Circumcision was associated with frequent orgasm difficulties in Danish men and with a range of frequent sexual difficulties in women, notably orgasm difficulties, dyspareunia and a sense of incomplete sexual needs fulfilment. Thorough examination of these matters in areas where male circumcision is more common is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Circumcision, Male / adverse effects*
  • Circumcision, Male / psychology
  • Circumcision, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / epidemiology*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / etiology*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology*
  • Young Adult