Circumcision is one of the most common medical procedures in the world, one of the simplest and one of the oldest. Across the world, approx. 30% of men are circumcised.
Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin (or prepuce), a simple fold of skin that covers the head (glans) of the penis.
It is performed for a variety of reasons - medical, preventative, cultural and cosmetic
Complications are rare in the hands of experienced medical practitioners, and no adverse psychological aftermath has been demonstrated.
Amongst the many briefly painful experiences encountered by a child before, during and after birth Circumcision is just one of them. It is not a medically essential procedure, but it is certainly not the dangerous operation it is sometimes made out to be. I suspect that some proponents and some critics of the procedure are rationalising their own personal lack of or retained foreskin, for both make some strong claims interpreting the scientific evidence quite differently. There is no doubt that there is medical evidence for the many health benefits of circumcisions, however, they are not strong enough to forcefully encourage all parents to circumcise their sons. It is our view that it is a reasonable choice for a parent to make about their son’s health and well-being, and it is an equally valid choice to decline it.
Please refer to the excellent discussions in the pamphlet by Dr Leon Levitt entitled Circumcision: Facts for Parents (link).
Also there is a detailed discussion on the benefits of circumcisions by Prof Brian Morris, an Australian authority respected worldwide for his scientific approach to this question, at www.circinfo.net.
He describes the following benefits...
- Decrease in physical problems involving a tight foreskin [Ohjimi et al., 1995].
- Lower incidence of inflammation of the head of the penis [Escala & Rickwood, 1989; Fakjian et al., 1990; Edwards, 1996].
- Reduced urinary tract infections.
- Fewer problems with erections, especially at puberty.
- Decrease in certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV, HPV, genital herpes, syphilis and other micro-organisms in men and their partner(s).
- Almost complete elimination of invasive penile cancer.
- Decrease in urological problems generally.
The three most commonly medical conditions cited for which therapeutic circumcision is indicated are:
- Recurrent inflammation of the foreskin and glans (balanoposthitis),
- Inability to retract the foreskin (phimosis) and
- Entrapment of the foreskin behind the glans (paraphimosis).
Contraindications to circumcision include Hypospadias and other congenital anomalies of the penis, e.g. epispadias, chordee, a sick or unstable child and inadequate expertise or facilities.