About our MMC programme
Voluntary medical male circumcision (MMC) is one of the strategies used by SWHP to fight HIV infection in SA. SWHP is a leading service provider of MMC, carrying out 344 621 MMCs between 2011 and 2016. This is almost a quarter of those linked to the broader government programme. These MMCs are a free service.
The MMC programme reaches out to communities to make it easy for men to access. MMC is performed at government-owned or community facilities. SWHP has two of its own fixed facilities, one in Durban and one in Cape Town. Several teams rove around South Africa servicing clinics, communities, prisons and even mines. SWHP also has several mobile clinics taking much needed services to hard-to-reach rural communities.
SWHP’s latest MMC campaign uses behavioural science to help boost the uptake of MMC. We make it easier to book an appointment for a free MMC at a variety of convenient clinic locations. It is free to dial the USSD number *134*450# which takes you through a simple process to set up an appointment at a venue closest to the area where you live.
You will be able to see appointment options for the next week in the following pilot districts: Kwazulu-Natal – Ethekwini, Ugu, Umgungundlovu, Uthungulu, Umkhanakude, Amajuba and Uthukela, Free State – Thabo Mfutsanyane, and Western Cape – Cape Metro.
Dial *134*450# for free, to make a booking for a free MMC.
Clients receive an SMS confirming the appointment and a reminder the day before the appointment.
If you don’t live in these pilot districts but would like to be circumcised, send a Please Call Me to
081 771 7757 and we will assist you in locating a clinic that offers the service near you.
Over the past 5 years SWHP has carried out over344 621
free MMCs. We have increased our service to communities by making it easy and free to make an appointment in private.
Dial *134*450# and follow the simple prompts to be part of the growing number of men who are making the cut in SA. Dial for free to make a booking for your free MMC.
We are confident that simplifying the booking process will further encourage men to have MMC.
We are using insights from behavioural science, which includes a USSD booking system.
This gives men the option of dialling free of charge to make a booking for their free MMC.
You will be taken through a simple menu which will let you choose a date to attend a clinic closest to the area where you live. You will be sent an SMS confirming the date and clinic address of your appointment. You will also receive an SMS reminder the day before the appointment.
SWHP’s medical MMC team includes doctors, nurses and social workers at clinics and mobile units in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Western Cape. SWHP also has a network of general practitioners that provide MMC services on their behalf.
SWHP’s mobilisation team includes groups of active social mobilisers whose task it is to educate and encourage clients to have MMC.
Voluntary medical male circumcision (MMC) is surgical removal or cutting away of the foreskin, the thin layer of skin extending over the tip of the penis. In this way the head of the penis can be easily seen. It is simple and safe and is carried out by a specially trained doctor at SWHP clinics for free. The Department of Health clinics also offer MMC services.
Dial *134*450# for free, to make a booking for a free MMC.
There are many benefits of MMC
Having MMC cuts your chance of becoming infected with HIV by up to 60%.
MMC reduces your risk of getting genital ulcers and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
It helps prevent cancer of the penis, since a common site where this develops is the inner part of the foreskin.
A circumcised penis is easier to keep clean and hence contributes to your general health.
There are many benefits you and your partner will experience by having medical male circumcision.
How does MMC protect against HIV?
People are exposed to HIV when they have sex with someone infected with HIV. Men who have vaginal intercourse with women with HIV are exposed to HIV through their penis. Uncircumcised men who are exposed to HIV are more likely to become infected because of the nature of the foreskin tissue. Removing the foreskin through MMC reduces the likelihood of HIV infection by up to 60%.
Do female partners of circumcised men benefit?
Yes they do. MMC is associated with a reduction in penile human papillomavirus (HPV), which means that women with circumcised partners are less likely to get cancer of the cervix. Studies have also shown that women who have only ever had sex with circumcised men have a 15% lower rate of HIV infection.
As more men are circumcised, fewer men in the community will get HIV, and of course if you remain free of HIV and other STIs, this also protects your partner.
How it is done
The SACTWU Worker Health Programme (SWHP) provides professional health clinics which are clean and hygienic.
You will be examined for infections and foreskin abnormalities, and receive treatment if necessary. You will receive counselling and HIV testing. You will need to give permission for HIV testing to take place.
A specially trained doctor or nurse performs the circumcision. You will be given a local anaesthetic, which is a small injection at the base of the penis. You won't feel any pain during the MMC.
The whole procedure lasts around 15 minutes. The healthcare worker will stitch and dress the wound, and give you painkillers so that you won't be uncomfortable when the local anaesthetic wears off.
The wound takes about 6 weeks to heal.
The clinic staff will tell you how to look after the wound. It is most important that you keep it clean and dry. Always wash your hands before touching the wound, to prevent infection. We need you to visit the clinic 2 days after MMC and then again on the 7th and 21st days after MMC to have everything checked. It is also important that you do not have sex or masturbate during the 6-week healing period, to avoid possible painful complications.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is voluntary medical male circumcision?
Voluntary medical male circumcision (MMC) is the surgical removal or cutting away of the foreskin, the thin layer of skin extending over the tip of the penis. In this way the head of the penis is fully exposed. It is simple and safe and carried out at SWHP and Department of Health clinics by a qualified doctor. It is fast, safe, and free of charge.
What are the benefits of MMC?
- Scientific studies have shown that MMC reduces your chances of becoming infected with HIV by up to 60%. Removing the foreskin also reduces your risk of genital ulcers and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It does not remove this risk entirely, so circumcised men still need to use condoms.
- It helps prevent cancer of the penis, since a common site where this develops is the inner part of the foreskin.
- It frees up the frenulum. The small skin fold that anchors the foreskin to the head and upper shaft of the penis is called the frenulum. In some men this is very short, and this can lead to discomfort, pain or tearing during erections or sex. Through MMC this area is freed from the organ, with no further tension or pain once healed.
- A circumcised penis is easier to keep clean.
How does MMC protect men against HIV infection?
People are exposed to HIV when they have sex with someone living with HIV. A man who has vaginal intercourse with a woman living with HIV is exposed to the virus through his penis. Uncircumcised men who are exposed to HIV are more likely to become infected, because of the nature of foreskin tissue. Removing the foreskin through MMC reduces the likelihood of HIV infection.
While MMC cuts the risk of HIV infection, it does not provide complete protection. After MMC you still need to use condoms to prevent unwanted pregnancy, HIV infection and STIs.
Do female partners of circumcised men benefit?
Yes. Women whose partners are circumcised are less likely to get cancer of the cervix. This is because MMC makes it less likely that the man will carry the virus that causes this cancer.
Also, women who have only ever had sex with circumcised men have a 15% lower rate of HIV infection.
Do people who have anal sex benefit from MMC?
There are currently no conclusive studies on the level of protection during anal sex. As always, use a condom.
Do men living with HIV benefit?
If you are uncircumcised and living with HIV, being circumcised does not cure you or reduce the HIV infection. However, MMC still gives men living with HIV a level of protection against other STIs. If you are living with HIV, are healthy and wish to be circumcised you will be advised on how to care for your wound. After MMC the risk of HIV transmission from a man living with HIV to a woman who is not may be increased if they have sex before the wound has healed.
What happens during MMC?
At a SWHP clinic, a specially trained doctor will do the circumcision. You will be given a local anaesthetic through a small injection at the base of your penis. You won't feel any pain during the MMC.
The whole procedure lasts around 15 minutes.
A qualified nurse will stitch and dress the wound. You will be given painkillers so you won't be uncomfortable when the local anaesthetic wears off.
If you want to talk to someone about MMC or have questions about how to care for your wound, send a Please Call Me to
081 771 7757.
How painful is MMC?
Everyone has a different perception of pain. There is obviously some discomfort with any medical procedure, but most men say that MMC and recovery are less painful than they expected. You will not experience any pain during the procedure as you will receive a local anaesthetic.
Men often report minor discomfort in the first days after MMC, but this can be taken care of by pain relief tablets that you can buy over the counter.
What are the risks of MMC?
While every surgery carries a risk, MMC is carried out in sterile conditions by trained medical staff, so the risk is very low.
Most common risks in the days after MMC can include pain, bleeding, swelling and infection. Staff at the clinic will explain how to care for the wound so that any complications are reduced. You will be given information on how to recognise any problems and where to get help if it is needed.
You will need to visit the clinic 2 days after MMC and then again on the 7th and 21st days after MMC for check ups.
See 'How do I take care of the wound?'
How long does it take to recover from MMC?
For 2 or 3 days after MMC it is normal to have a bit of soreness. Pain relief tablets will help to relieve any pain. It is usually possible to return to school or work 1 or 2 days after having MMC.
However, it takes about 6 weeks for the wound to heal completely. It is very important that you do not have sex or masturbate during the 6-week healing period, so that you avoid possible painful complications.
How much does MMC cost?
MMC is free of charge from SWHP clinics.
It is also offered at government clinics and hospitals.
How long does the wound take to heal?
It only takes 6 weeks. This is a small price to pay for the many benefits you and your partner will experience by being circumcised.
How do I take care of the wound?
Always wash your hands before touching the wound, and wear clean underwear every day.
Removal of dressing
- Remove the dressing on the 3rd day after circumcision.
- Boil some water and allow it to cool. Sprinkle the bandage with the lukewarm water to make it easier to remove.
- Once you have taken off the dressing, soak your penis in the warm (not hot) water for 10 minutes.
- Gently dry your penis with a clean towel and place your penis with the head towards your belly button (elevated) to prevent swelling.
General wound care
- Visit your nearest clinic in 48 hours, on day 7 and on day 21 after MMC to have your wound checked.
- If there are any signs of bleeding or swelling, visit your nearest clinic immediately.
- Avoid contact sports until completely healed.
- Take pain medication as prescribed.
- Then a reminder not to have sex or masturbate during the 6-week healing period, so that you avoid possible painful complications.
- The stitches will dissolve by themselves.
- The wound needs nothing added: Please do not use homemade medication like umanyazini, or Dettol, Savlon, Mercurochrome or gentian violet.
- Please don’t use someone else’s antibiotic tablets or cream.
- Contact your nearest clinic or the SWHP help line (Please Call Me 081 771 7757) if you have any problems.
Does MMC make sex less enjoyable for men?
MMC does not make any difference to sexual desire or satisfaction, erectile function, or ability. You will continue to be able to have fulfilling sexual experiences after MMC.
How do I book for an MMC?
You simply make a free call to *134*450#. You will need to give your area where you live and you will be able to choose the date when you would like to have an MMC at one of the SWHP clinics closest to you. You will receive an SMS confirming the date of the MMC and the address of the clinic. You will receive a reminder the day before your appointment.
Can any male undergo MMC?
The target age range for the National MMC Programme is any male aged 15 – 49 years who is in good health. Teenagers under the age of 18 years must have their parent’s consent to have MMC.
How does MMC fit in with traditional circumcision?
Male circumcision is widely practiced in diverse cultures around the world, for cultural and religious reasons.
SWHP respects cultural practices in South Africa around male circumcision and offers MMC and highlights its benefits to those communities that do not have male circumcision as a practice.
SWHP works closely with all local health and traditional authorities to ensure that MMC is implemented with sensitivity to local cultural practices.
What does MMC NOT do?
- MMC does not prevent pregnancy.
- For a woman who has unprotected sex with a man living with HIV or an STI, MMC does not lower the risk of infection with HIV or any other STIs.
- MMC does not reduce the risk of HIV infection during anal sex.
In view of the above, remember always to wear a condom!
Do I still need to use a condom after circumcision?
Yes, please use a condom to reduce unwanted pregnancy and transmission of HIV and STIs.
MMC increases your protection but is not 100% safe. Using a condom will increase your protection, so you still need those condoms!