Does circumcision protect you from STIs?

My boyfriend is not circumcised. Is he at more risk of getting an STI than if he were to circumcise?

First, have you discussed this with your boyfriend yet? It’s important to openly discuss the risk of STIs with any of your partner(s).

Asking him when he last had a test is a great first step. You can schedule a time to be tested together if it has been some time!

Yet still, here’s what you need to know:

Circumcision is the surgical removal of a foreskin (the tissue that covers the head of the penis). It is an important religious practice for some faiths ad cultures in Kenya, but it is also commonly performed in most African countries and other parts of the world.

The presence of a foreskin around the head of the penis distinguishes a circumcised (cut) from an uncircumcised (uncut) penis.

The general consensus by researchers is that circumcision does offer ‘some’ protection against some  STIs and HIV. However, this does not imply that it must serve as the first line of defense: This means it only lessens the chances that a man will catch an STI.

The most effective method of preventing STIs is not circumcision but rather barrier methods such as condoms or dental dams.

Being uncut or uncircumcised does not automatically mean that he is more at risk of getting an STI. Someone is more at risk of getting an STI if they are:

  • Having unprotected sex – without a condom (Vaginal, anal, oral, and sharing sex toys)
  • Having multiple partners
  • Having sexual intercourse while under the influence of drugs as they lead to poor decision making
  • Having sex partners whose STI status is unknown to you

Circumcised or uncircumcised, it is important to use a condom during sex. When condoms are used correctly, they are 98% effective at preventing STIs, including HIV, and unintended pregnancy.  If using condoms is an option for you, do so and you will have peace of mind with no regrets.

Discuss your concerns about STIs with your boyfriend before you begin a sexual relationship with him. Your best bets for a fulfilling and healthy sexual relationship, whether you have a foreskin or not, are open communication with your partner, routine testing, and the use of condoms.

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