Voluntary medical male circumcision

Voluntary medical male circumcision is free of charge and has health benefits for men and women

Voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) helps reduce the sexual transmission of HIV as well of some sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It also helps reduce the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer in women.Circumcision is a proactive health choice that men can make for themselves and their female partners.

Right to Care has already circumcised one million men in five years. We have now started our second programme in the North West, Mpumalanga, Free State and Eastern Cape. Our aim is for 1 225 000 men aged 15 to 29 in these provinces to make the healthy decision to be circumcised.

Men can be circumcised free of charge at a clinic or general practitioner located nearby and there are mobile units where clinical staff are also doing circumcisions. If you live in a rural area, we will help you with transport.

After your circumcision, there is a six-week healing process during which time you must do what the healthcare workers advise on cleaning the wound, attending follow up appointments and abstaining from sex or masturbation. The healing process goes quickly, after which you can enjoy sex again

Where to go and who to contact

Men can get circumcised at any public healthcare facility.

Right to Care is working with our expert healthcare professionals who have been specially trained in circumcisions:

  • North West
    • Ngaka Modiri Molema and Dr Kenneth Kaunda
  • Mpumalanga
    • Nkangala
  • Free State
    • Thabo Mofutsanyana District and Lejweleputswa districts
  • Eastern Cape
    • Right to Care is working with traditional leaders, the health department and communities in OR Tambo, Alfred Nzo and Amathole districts.

To discuss and book your circumcision:

  • Free 24-hour call centre on 082 808 6152 or send a ‘please call me’.

Right to Care is working with Brothers for Life where men can also get information.

Five circumcision myths

Myth #1: Circumcision will interfere with my ability to enjoy sex

Circumcision has no adverse effects on sexual function or pleasure. But, you must have your circumcision in a proper medical facility under sterile conditions. The healing process takes six weeks. You should not have sex or masturbate during the six-week healing process. Studies show that there is no difference in sexual desire, function or sensitivity after a man has been circumcised.

Myth #2: The healing process is too long and may impact on my income

Circumcision is a quick and simple procedure and takes six weeks for a full recovery. Actual time off work is just a couple of days. You can ask for a doctor’s certificate to hand to your work.

Myth #3: VMMC prevents HIV transmission

Voluntary male medical circumcision doesn’t totally eliminate HIV transmission but it does reduce it significantly. Using a condom is still advised. Our experts say circumcise and condomise.

Myth #4: The healing process is painful

After the procedure, the nurses will give you a pack and show you how to clean your wound. You must clean the wound properly and keep your healthcare appointments. You can take up sport again after only two weeks. Healing takes six weeks.

Myth #5: Circumcision causes tetanus infections

You will not develop tetanus if you have your circumcision in a proper medical facility under sterile conditions and if you keep your follow-up appointments. You can speak to your healthcare worker about the tetanus vaccination.

Five frequently asked questions (FAQs) 

1. What is Medical Male Circumcision (MMC)? MMC is the full removal of the foreskin that fully exposes the head of the penis. It is a simple, safe procedure that is performed for free at clinics and district hospitals in South Africa by a qualified doctor or healthcare worker.

2. What are the benefits of MMC? Removing the foreskin has many benefits:

  • Improves hygiene – It is easier to keep the penis clean.
  • Reduces HIV and STI transmission – It lowers the risk of HIV and STIs but circumcised men should still use condoms and ideally have only one partner.
  • Reduces cancer in women – Circumcision reduces a woman’s risk of cervical

3. Is the procedure painful? You will receive a local anaesthetic – a small injection at the base of the penis – before the procedure so it is not painful. Pain or discomfort can occur once the anaesthetic has worn off and in the first few days after the procedure. Should you experience pain, take the pain medication given to you by the healthcare worker.

4. What happens when I go for my circumcision? Before the circumcision, you will undergo an examination by trained healthcare workers for infections and foreskin abnormalities and receive treatment if necessary. A specially trained doctor or nurse performs the circumcision. The whole procedure lasts around 30 minutes. The health care worker will stitch and dress the wound.

5. What must I do after the circumcision? Keep the wound clean and dry. Visit the clinic two days after the procedure and then on the seventh day. Health care professionals must check that you are cleaning the wound properly, that the healing is taking place, and that you are not in any discomfort. If you experience unusual pain or bleeding please visit your clinic immediately. 

Five facts

1. If you weren’t circumcised as a baby, it’s not too late. Any male aged 10 – 49 and in good health, irrespective of HIV status, is eligible for free circumcision in South Africa. Those under 18 need parental consent.

2. Medical circumcision is a simple procedure with little down time and minimal pain. It’s done by medical professionals and it is offered free of charge.

3. Studies and statistics tell a great story: One HIV infection could be averted for every five circumcisions performed. Circumcision reduces STIs like herpes, genital ulcer disease and syphilis, and it reduces urinary tract infections.

4. There is no difference between a circumcision done in winter and one done in summer. The good thing about having you circumcision done in the summer when many people take a holiday is that there are fewer patients and shorter waiting times.

5. Circumcision is one of the most common medical procedures performed worldwide and complications are very rare and usually easily resolved.