Circumcision: The difference between TMC and MMC

By March 13, 2014Surgery

MMC is the full removal of the penis foreskin, fully exposing the head of the penis. The procedure is performed at a medical facility by a trained Healthcare Worker or Doctor. Traditional male circumcision is carried out as a rite of passage into manhood, traditional male circumcision is mainly performed on adolescents or young men. Find out more about the differences between traditional male circumcision and medical male circumcision.

Traditional male circumcision

When carried out as a rite of passage into manhood, traditional male circumcision is mainly performed on adolescents or young men. Circumcisions carried out under non-clinical conditions have significant risk of complications. Often, unsterilized and unwashed blades are used on a dozen or more initiates within a single session. This, in itself, poses risks in terms of HIV infection.

Initiates are also significantly dehydrated during their two-week period (sometimes longer) of seclusion in the belief that this reduces weeping of the wound. After-care may be in the hands of a traditional attendant with no basic medical training. The combination of dehydration and septicemia can result in acute renal failure, gangrene, tetanus or even death. The Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Health recorded 2 262 hospital admissions, 115 deaths and 208 cases of genital amputations for traditional male circumcisions between 2001 and 2006.

Medical male circumcision (MMC)

MMC is the full removal of the penis foreskin, fully exposing the head of the penis. The procedure is performed at a medical facility by a trained Healthcare Worker or Doctor. Medical male circumcision is a relatively simple, quick and safe procedure when performed in a clinical setting under sterile conditions by a trained practitioner with proper instrumentation. In these cases, complications are only seen in around 1 – 4% of all circumcisions; and in most men, these were mild.

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What are the risks of male circumcision (TMC or MMC)?

Complications are both more likely and more serious in TMC because of unsterile wound care, the tying of a tight thong around the base of the penis, dehydration due to fluid restrictions and active discouragement of seeking medical care in cases of early complications.

Medical male circumcision is a relatively simple, quick and safe procedure when performed in a clinical setting under sterile conditions by a trained practitioner with proper instrumentation. In these cases, complications are only seen in around 1 – 4% of all circumcisions and in most men, these were mild.

Rare and more severe complications associated with circumcision may include penile sepsis, gangrene, loss of penis (partial or complete), dehydration, acute renal failure, septicaemia or death. Please note that although medical male circumcision significantly reduces a man’s risk of contracting HIV from a woman, and reduces a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer, it is NOT a 100% prevention strategy. Therefore, you must always use a condom every time you have sex, even if you or your partner has had a medical male circumcision.

Stay safe and help reduce your risk of contracting HIV by having a medical male circumcision.