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.
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.
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
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
Reasons for 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.
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.
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.
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
Web Resources: ~ http://mothersagainstcirc.org Mothers
Information and Resource Page - http://www.cirp.org