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


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.

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Correspondence to Ulla Larsen.

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Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration. This research was supported by an award from the William F. Milton Fund. We would like to acknowledge useful comments from Stacie Colwell, Carla Obermeyer, Robert Strecker, and two anonymous reviewers. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America, held in New York City in March 1999.

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Larsen, U., Yan, S. Does female circumcision affect infertility and fertility? A study of the central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, and Tanzania. Demography 37, 313–321 (2000).

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  • Infertility
  • Total Fertility Rate
  • Birth Interval
  • Male Circumcision
  • Female Genital Mutilation