Circumcision The Medical Pros and Cons (cont.)

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What is the relationship between circumcision and sexually transmitted diseases?

There is a higher risk of gonorrhea and inflammation of the urethra (the tube that carries the urine from the bladder outside) in uncircumcised men. It has also been reported that other sexually transmitted diseases (such as chancroid, syphilis, human papillomavirus, and herpes simplex virus type 2 infection) are more frequent in uncircumcised men. As mentioned above, most recently three large studies performed in Africa documented that circumcision was protective with respect to the acquisition of HIV infection as compared to those uncircumcised subjects.

What might this connection between circumcision and sexually transmitted diseases mean?

Circumcision prevents the growth under the foreskin of the agents that cause sexually transmitted diseases. Removal of the foreskin may provide some measure of protection from these diseases to males and their mates.

What is the correlation between sexually transmitted diseases and cancer of the cervix?

There is a strong connection between sexually transmitted diseases and cancer of the cervix. Human papillomavirus types 16 and 18 (as well as other less common HPV types) are causes of precancerous changes in the cervix and cervical cancer.

The strongest predisposing factors in cervical cancer are a history of intercourse at an early age and multiple sexual partners. An HPV vaccine is now available and recommended for all girls and boys, and when given before the first sexual encounter, it has been shown to be protective against the most common HPV types associated with malignancy. The vaccine presumably prevents cervical cancer associated with these specific infections but is unable to prevent cancers arising from infections with less common HPV types not contained in the vaccine. Therefore, routine screening for precancerous changes in the cervix is still recommended.

What might this relationship between lack of circumcision and cervical cancer mean?

Circumcision may partially protect the mate from cancer of the cervix by removing the foreskin which harbors sexually transmitted viruses (HPVs) that promote this common form of female cancer.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/5/2012