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What is circumcision?

Male circumcision is an operation where the foreskin that covers the head of the penis is removed. As a male over the age of 16 years old, you can choose to be circumcised at a local clinic or hospital – if you are younger, you can also be circumcised with permission from your parents or guardian.

Why do people get circumcised?

  • There may be a medical reason. For example, the foreskin might be too narrow to go over the head of the penis when a person gets an erection.
  • There is a cultural or religious reason for removing the foreskin.
  • Circumcision reduces your chance of getting infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, you can still get infected! You will still need to use a condom for protection.
  • Chances of HIV infection are higher than normal while the circumcision wound is healing so wait to heal before you have sex.
  • Circumcision does not reduce your risk of HIV infection if you have anal sex.
  • Circumcision does not influence your desire to have sex (sex drive).
  • Getting circumcised does not influence the size of your penis.
  • If you are circumcised, you can still enjoy sex and have orgasms. However, the head of the penis becomes a little less sensitive. So, getting an orgasm might take a bit longer.

Circumcision and pregnancy

Getting circumcised does not lower your chances of getting someone pregnant.

Here is what to expect when you go for a circumcision:

  • When you arrive at the clinic or hospital, you will receive counselling.
  • You will also be tested for HIV and other STIs.
  • A nurse will prepare you for the operation. Your circumcision will be done by a doctor who is specially trained.
  • Circumcision is done under local anaesthetic (an injection that numbs the area).
  • The operation takes between 20 and 30 minutes. You don’t need to stay overnight.
  • After the operation, you will be given instructions on how to keep the wound clean.
  • After circumcision, avoid sex or masturbation for 6 weeks until the wound heals completely

Learn more about erections here.

Want to find out more about the male reproductive system? Click here.

Circumcision only reduces your chances of getting HIV, but you are still at risk if you have unprotected sex. Find out what to do if you think you’ve been exposed to HIV here.

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