, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 313-321

First online:

Does female circumcision affect infertility and fertility? A study of the central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, and Tanzania

  • Ulla LarsenAffiliated withDepartment of Population and International Health, Harvard School of Public Health Email author 
  • , Sharon YanAffiliated withCenter for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration

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This study explores the association between female circumcision and infertility and fertility, using information from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). In Côte d’Ivoire and Tanzania, circumcised women had lower childlessness, lower infertility by age, and higher total fertility rates than women who were not circumcised; the reverse pattern prevailed in the Central African Republic. In all three countries, however, circumcised women grouped by age at circumcision did not have significantly different odds of infertility nor of having a child than did uncircumcised women, when the effects of covariates were controlled. Thus we find evidence suggesting that the practice of female circumcision does not have a statistically discernible effect on women’s ability to reproduce.