What is Circumcision?

Circumcision is a procedure in which the foreskin, the sheath of tissue covering the head of the penis, is removed. Circumcision is usually done within days after birth. Parental consent must be obtained before the procedure is performed.

The practice has been performed since ancient times, when it was done as a religious rite or as an initiation of boys into adulthood. Most Jewish and Muslim parents throughout the world today continue to have their sons circumcised for religious and cultural reasons.

In the United States overall, the practice is somewhat less common today than it was 50 years ago, but is still done almost routinely with parental consent of course. In the 1800s, it was believed that circumcision helped prevent masturbation. Any circumcised man, however, will tell you this is not true.

Health Issues:

Researchers have attempted to learn more about whether circumcision prevents infection and certain types of cancer, but more studies need to be done to answer these questions. It is known that circumcision prevents infection and inflammation of the foreskin. It seems to decrease the risk of cancer of the penis. This disease occurs in fewer than one of every 100,000 men in the United States. But there has been a lot of argument in the medical community about circumcision and the risk of cancer. More on that controversy and the 1999 decision by the American Academy of Pediatrics in this article -- see "Cancer Risk" below.

Some studies have shown a greater risk of cervical cancer in female sexual partners of uncircumcised men who are infected with human papillomavirus. Circumcision might also have a role in reducing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. BUT using a condom is a far more important factor in preventing these diseases than whether a man is circumcised or not!

Other Reasons For Circumcision?

Cleanliness:
Some physicians say
circumcision makes it easy to keep the end of the penis clean and easier for the parents of infant boys to keep them clean also. This may be one reason why so many parents were told to circumcise their sons. (Just speculation). For more on why it is NOT necessary to circumcise your child, see the link at the bottom -- Mothers Against Circumcision

Other Reasons for Circumcision:

Circumcision is often chosen by parents so that their son will not "look different" from his father or peers. The belief is that an intact (uncircumcised) boy will feel uncomfortable if he does not "match" or look like his others. Many parents say they don't want their son to feel "strange" or "weird" in the locker room at school.

And Yet Another Reason?

It was once believed that circumcision would prevent masturbation, as stated earlier, that was in the 1800s when masturbation was not looked upon as a healthy thing to be doing. Circumcision does not prevent masturbation or increase fertility. The belief that circumcision enhances the sexual experience for men or for their sexual partners may not necessarily be true, either. I can't confirm or deny this as I wasn't born with a penis, but many men have written in to say that they believe they are more 'sensitive' because of having a foreskin.

Cancer Risk?

It is widely and falsely believed that uncircumcised men stand a greater risk of penile cancer. A big surprise to many in the medical community.

In March of 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics revised its circumcision policy statement and concluded that there is not sufficient data to support the supposed potential health benefits of circumcision. The organization no longer advocates routine neonatal circumcision.

Here is part of that press release from March 1, 1999, 5 p.m. (ET) Below is a highlight of the policy published in the March issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), if you care to see what they determined.

CHICAGO - After analysis of almost 40 years of available medical research on circumcision, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued new recommendations today stating that the benefits are not significant enough for the AAP to recommend circumcision as a routine procedure.

The new policy statement was published in this month's issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the AAP. “Circumcision is not essential to a child's well-being at birth, even though it does have some potential medical benefits. These benefits are not compelling enough to warrant the AAP to recommend routine newborn circumcision. Instead, we encourage parents to discuss the benefits and risks of circumcision with their pediatrician, and then make an informed decision about what is in the best interest of their child,” says Carole Lannon, M.D., MPH, FAAP, chair of the AAP's Task Force on Circumcision.

The policy concluded, however, that it is legitimate for parents to take into account cultural, religious and ethnic traditions, in addition to medical factors, when making this decision. It states that to make an informed choice, parents of all male infants should be given accurate information and be provided the opportunity to discuss this decision with their pediatrician.”

That was their conclusion at that time. We will check with them from time to time to see if this information has been updated, revised or changed. This article was written in response to several questions and requests by readers. Thanks for those requests on this interesting and still controversial subject.

Some men find circumcision to be a form of 'mutilation'. In addition, it is also seen as unethical to many men since it is done without the consent of the infant.

For more information contact the:

CIRCUMCISION RESOURCE CENTER
Tel/Fax (617)523-0088
www.circumcision.org

Web Resources: ~ http://mothersagainstcirc.org Mothers Against Circumcision

Circumcision Information and Resource Page - http://www.cirp.org






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