• Open Access

Circumcision in Australia: further evidence on its effects on sexual health and wellbeing


Correspondence to:
Dr Juliet Richters, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Samuels Building, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052. Fax: (02)9385 1036; e-mail: j.richters@unsw.edu.au


Objective: To report on the prevalence and demographic variation in circumcision in Australia and examine sexual health outcomes in comparison with earlier research.

Methods: A representative household sample of 4,290 Australian men aged 16–64 years completed a computer-assisted telephone interview including questions on circumcision status, demographic variables, reported lifetime experience of selected sexually transmissible infections (STIs), experience of sexual difficulties in the previous 12 months, masturbation, and sexual practices at last heterosexual encounter.

Results: More than half the men (58%) were circumcised. Circumcision was less common (33%) among men under 30 and more common (66%) among those born in Australia. After adjustment for age and number of partners, circumcision was unrelated to STI history except for non-specific urethritis (higher among circumcised men, OR=2.11, p<0.001) and penile candidiasis (lower among circumcised men, OR=0.49, p<0.001).

Circumcision was unrelated to any of the sexual difficulties we asked about (after adjusting for age) except that circumcised men were somewhat less likely to have worried during sex about whether their bodies looked unattractive (OR=0.77, p=0.04). No association between lack of circumcision and erection difficulties was detected. After correction for age, circumcised men were somewhat more likely to have masturbated alone in the previous 12 months (OR=1.20, p=0.02).

Conclusions: Circumcision appears to have minimal protective effects on sexual health in Australia.