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How Long After Circumcision Can You Have Sex?

A man should wait until the circumcision heals, which usually takes six weeks. Men should abstain from sexual activity during this time.

In one study in Kenya, some men who were circumcised believed that initial sexual intercourse post-circumcision was intended for cleansing purposes. This belief could lead to circumcised men engaging in risky sexual behaviour that puts them and their partners at risk of HIV infection.

It’s Safe

Circumcision is a minor surgical procedure that removes the foreskin from the head of the penis. While it can leave behind scar lines, they heal quickly and are not painful. Most people do not need to take time off work or school after circumcision. However, they should avoid strenuous physical activity and sexual intercourse until the penis has healed.

Men undergoing circumcision are often counselled to abstain from sexual activity until their wounds have healed, since the unhealed wound provides a route for HIV infection. Despite this recommendation, researchers found that about a quarter of circumcised men resumed sexual activities before their wounds had fully healed. This early resumption of sexual activity could undermine the protective effect of circumcision against HIV suggested by three randomized trials.

The research involved 48 in-depth interviews with men who were about to undergo circumcision as part of a larger household survey in Zambia. The interviews were conducted either shortly after receiving circumcision at a health facility, or later at their homes or other private venues as preferred by the participants.

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The interview data was analyzed for themes that reflected beliefs about the sexual cleansing benefits of circumcision and its impact on HIV transmission risks. The main themes were:

It’s Not Safe

Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin from behind the head of the penis, using a scalpel and surgical scissors. The surgeon stops any bleeding with heat treatment (diathermy) or by stitching up the wound.

Some people have a little pain after circumcision, which usually goes away quickly. Rarely, the incision may bleed excessively or form an infection. It’s important to follow postsurgical instructions, and avoid putting pressure on the area.

In addition to infection, complications can include excessive bleeding or anesthesia side effects such as vomiting, headaches, and trouble waking up from general anesthesia. Other risks include damage to nerves or blood vessels in the area, problems with the method of circumcision, and side effects from anesthesia.

Research in Zambia found that men who had undergone SMC had a lower risk of HIV transmission during vaginal sex but still had a significant risk. Many of those who reported having sex before the circumcision healed had already been involved in sexual relationships with partners, and they feared their partner would be pleased that they had initiated sex before healing.

It’s also possible that some men who have undergone circumcision believe the tip of their penis is less sensitive after the operation and therefore have decreased sexual pleasure. This belief could lead to early sex resumption, which can put the new circumcised man and his partners at greater risk of HIV infection.

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It’s Not Necessary

Circumcision is a simple procedure that removes the foreskin (or penis cleft), but the healing process can take up to six weeks. If a man resumes sexual activity before the penis has fully healed, he can experience painful erections. A condom should be used for penetrative sex to prevent friction on the scar line. The surgery is performed under anesthesia in a hospital or clinic. Most people recover with over-the-counter pain relievers, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

Some men who undergo circumcision as adults do not follow the advice to abstain from sex for 6 weeks, putting themselves and their partners at risk of HIV infection. A recent study from Zambia examined risk behaviors among men who were recently circumcised. They were interviewed soon after receiving circumcision as well as again six weeks later. The researchers found that 81% of men who resumed sex did so without using protection. Those who did not abstain had a higher lifetime number of sexual partners and had more unprotected sex in the six weeks prior to their circumcision.

The study’s findings suggest that beliefs about circumcision could influence men’s decision to risk sex after the procedure, and that this may be one of the reasons why some people have difficulty complying with the abstinence recommendations. For this reason, a condom should always be used for penetrative sex after circumcision.

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It’s Important

The circumcision wound needs to be fully healed before men are allowed to engage in sexual activity. The standard recommendation is six weeks, but doctors may recommend that men wait longer if they have concerns about healing. Healing time does not vary based on whether men have HIV, although infection or tight sutures could delay healing.

After a circumcision the penis may appear swollen and red, or it might have a yellow discharge or crust. These are all normal signs of the healing process. It is important to wash the area gently with plain water and apply a sterile ointment after each diaper change to avoid irritation. A nurse or doctor will provide specific instructions on caring for the penis and reducing pain.

A few weeks after circumcision, some men may begin to feel uncomfortable or sensitive around the head of the penis. This is usually because the skin of the penis has become irritated. Using a lubricant can decrease this discomfort and make it easier to perform sexual activity.

It is important to know that men who choose to be circumcised have a lower risk of contracting STDs. But it is also important to use condoms during sex regardless of whether or not you are circumcised. LetsGetChecked offers at-home testing kits that are easy and affordable. Get your kit today!